The feedback fallacy

When I’m pretending to be an astute senior leader, I turn to articles in the Harvard Business Review. Most often, I just look at the colorful and clever graphics that introduce each section. Once in a while, a heading will catch my curiosity, such as “The Feedback Fallacy,” and I will actually read the whole article.

Darn it. The authors write that I’ve been doing it all wrong for 40 years. Constructive criticism creates more harm than good. Here’s a quote from the article that speaks to the research: “Your brain responds to critical feedback as a threat and narrows its activity. Focusing people on their shortcomings doesn’t enable learning, it impairs it.” 

The article brought me back to an old book by Ken Blanchard, who encourages us to catch people doing something right. I didn’t really fall in love with Ken’s book, but now I’m having second thoughts about my approach to employees, friends and family.

Now, at 74, I have to change my behavior and sneak around, catching all this good stuff going on.

And I am so practiced and talented (self-evaluation) at giving constructive criticism to so many lucky people.

Oh well, change is always possible.

Author: Don Kuhl

Don Kuhl is founder of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® He has authored hundreds of Journals that have assisted over 10 million people in making positive life changes. While Don was aging (think of a side of beef at a fine restaurant), he managed motel properties, started several sports publications, worked in college and health care administrations and started about a dozen corporations. Some of them failed miserably, a few flourished.