Giving Feedback – 3 simple steps to improve your relationships


When someone asks if they can give you some feedback, what do you usually think of?

Firstly, you are probably surprised that someone has asked if they can give you feedback and then you may go through a number of thoughts such as “what did I do wrong?”, “what do I need to improve on?”, “what can I do better?”

The problem is, once you are going through these thoughts, you do not really listen to understand the feedback you are more likely to think about rationalising your behaviour, making excuses for what you did and may also doubt the motives of the person providing the feedback.

The definition of feedback  in the Oxford English Dictionary is twofold :-

  • Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement. This definitely fits with the reaction you may have above
  • The modification or control of a process or system by its results or effects, for example in a biochemical pathway or behavioural response. This definition implies that feedback can be positive too!

My view on feedback is that we ought to give it more often – that is positive feedback!  This is something that we do not do often enough and do not really do well enough.  We may say “good job” or “well done” but I want to see more thought going into positive feedback.

So how do you do it?  This is an area I have been modelling and it is so simple; just follow these steps:-

  • You hear or see something that pleases you
  • You notice how that makes you feel. If not so good, remove the thought from your mind and if it is good notice how it really makes you feel.
  • Tell the other person. So what do you say to them? You tell them 4 distinct things:-
    1. Tell them what you have seen or heard
    2. Explain the personality trait that this demonstrates
    3. The impact this has on you
    4. Thank you

So for example,

  1. Recently I have noticed how the team seems to be functioning better
  2. I love the enthusiasm you bring into work every day and this seems to be rubbing off on other members of the team
  3. And this makes my job so much easier
  4. Thank you

Why don’t you try this positive feedback more often?  If you can get right to the core values and identity of the person the reaction will be amazing.  When you see this reaction on the other person’s face and notice how it makes them feel, just notice how it makes you feel.

Just imagine if we followed this approach with our young people too.  How much would that help them understand their personal qualities, how they are appreciated and the impact they have on others around them. Just think about how that would boost their self-esteem and their confidence.

Go on, give it a go, notice the impact you have and just imagine what ripple effects that feedback could have!


Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward; Your Catalyst for Change

“Confusion is ignorance leaving the brain” – The 4 stages of learning

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to do something new or are reading something that you don’t understand your emotions can start to take over?  You can become anxious or frustrated that you don’t “get it” or even annoyed with yourself.

I know I have seen people who get angry when trying to follow a set of instructions for flat pack furniture or anxious when studying a new concept or learning a new skill

The reason those emotions come forward is because of a sense of confusion and therefore a perceived lack of control.  However, this confusion is a normal and natural stage of learning and should be embraced.

Whenever we learn something new we go through 4 stages :

Let’s put this into context with learning to drive a car.

Stage 1 – before starting to learn you are blissfully unconsciously aware or oblivious of your incompetence or your inability to drive a car and what is involved.

Stage 2 – as you start to learn you become more aware of the number of things you need to think about and the amount of actions you need to complete with your feet on the pedals, hands on the steering wheel, gear lever, indicators and hand brake and eyes on the road, in the mirrors and dashboard.  At this stage you are consciously incompetent; you are aware of the amount you need to know and how little you do know.   This is where the confusion sets in.

Stage 3 – as you drive more, you become more adept at mirror, signal manoeuvre and clutch down, change gear and clutch up.  You are becoming more capable of driving a car but still need to concentrate and so are consciously competent.

Stage 4 – this is mastering.  When having been driving for some time, the actions become more natural without thinking this is when you become unconsciously competent.
We all go through the 4 stages with everything we do, sometimes it may be a quick process and other times it can be slower and more difficult.  It is at Stage 2 when the confusion sets in that creates the potentially emotional reaction of frustration.

Can you think of a time when you felt confused?  What caused it? What happened next? How did it affect your learning of that topic?  It is likely that this confusion helped your level of understanding and helped to cement this learning in your mind.

Next time you are at Stage 2 and you are feeling confused and maybe frustrated, angry or annoyed, remember that it is because your brain is trying to make sense of something.  Remember that you are going through a learning process and “Confusion is ignorance leaving the brain”.

If you are at a stage of confusion in your life and are looking for help to achieve the success you are seeking, as Your Catalyst For Change I can guide you through your confusion and help you swiftly move into unconscious competence.

“You cannot stop the waves but you can learn how to surf”- How to move from Effect to Cause

Have you ever noticed how often you hear others say “I can’t do that because…” It may be because of time, money, the kids etc.  How often do you hear “If he hadn’t said or done that…” or “he makes me so angry”?  I know I hear it a lot and at times I say these things too, don’t you?

In physics we understand the idea of Cause and Effect.  As Sir Isaac Newton said, “Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction”.  In other words, think about ten pin bowling, the cause is the bowling ball rolling down the alley in the direction you choose.  The effect is knocking over the pins when knocked by either the ball or maybe another pin.

In psychology, the idea of Cause and Effect is similar; so consider the analogy of a bowling ball. If you are At Cause you are the bowling ball and taking actions to shape and create the world you want. If you are At Effect you are one of the pins busy focussing on how something else or somebody else has affected you and your actions and maybe knocked you over.  Being At Effect will be revealed in the language you use.

So if you find yourself saying “I can’t do that because…”  or “If he hadn’t said or done that…” or “he makes me so angry” then you are At Effect.  You are letting others determine your feelings, behaviour and actions or you are blaming circumstances rather than empowering yourself to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. Also, every time you say such things you are affirming and reaffirming these points in your mind.

So, isn’t it more empowering to be At Cause? Aren’t you more likely to succeed and achieve by taking ownership of your actions and behaviours and avoiding the blame game? Won’t you feel more in control if you focus on what you can control and being conscious of the decision and actions you are taking and being responsible for them rather than the things you cannot control?  Isn’t it better to learn how to surf rather than try to blame or stop the waves?

So as a simple example, next time you are asked to have a night out with friends don’t respond with “I can’t because I don’t have the time, money or because of the kids”.  Try reframing your response with a conscious decision :-

  • Not tonight, my time is limited and I have decided to prioritise my work over a night out,
  • Not tonight, money is tight and I have decided to save up to buy my partner’s birthday present
  • Not tonight, I want to spend time bathing the children and reading them a story

And next time you hear yourself say “He makes me really angry” think to yourself and answer yourself:-

  • In what way did I influence his behaviour?
  • What actions can I take to avoid this anger?
  • What am I learning NOW about how I can do things BETTER in the future?

So, how about you?  Are you living your life At Cause or more often At Effect? Are you blaming and trying to stop the waves or are you learning how to surf?   If you are wondering how to create your own results or how to achieve the success you are seeking, as Your Catalyst For Change I can guide you on your journey of discovery and realisation and I can help you master the surf and the Ally-Oop and avoid the Wipe Out!

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Want to break your 4 minute mile?

How many of us don’t follow our dreams because we doubt our abilities to do it or because of a fear of failure?  Yet if we don’t try, how will we know?

As soon as you doubt yourself and your abilities, the battle is lost and those negative thoughts mean that your dreams will always be out of reach.  Also, the more you procrastinate, the more problems you envisage which just increase the feeling of doubt.

When you follow your dreams, what is the worst that can happen? Look at all the amazing people who have done things that they were told were impossible.

I always think of Sir Roger Bannister who broke the 4 minute mile barrier.  Many people had tried and not come close to the 4 minute target and people doubted that it could ever be done!  None of them were considered to be failing.  Even Sir Roger missed the target several times and almost gave up athletics after a perceived poor performance at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. However, on 6 May 1954, Sir Roger completed the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds and the record lasted just 46 days – was this because all doubt about being able to break 4 minutes had been removed?

We all have resources available to us and we may not know how good or strong those resources are.  Call on the help and guidance of others where relevant and tell people what you are trying to do and you are more likely to stick to it.  Often it is only when we come up against a problem or challenge that we realise what resources are within us already and maybe did not realise because we had not tapped into them before. If you believe you will achieve.

Besides, what is failure?  There is no such thing as failure, only an experience to help you to learn and to do it better next time.  Such feedback makes you stronger and can make you even more motivated to achieve your goals in the future.  I suggest you eliminate the word failure from your vocabulary and reframe it as feedback!

So, how about you?  Is your doubt taking over?  Is your fear of failure preventing you from taking steps to fulfil your dreams?  Or maybe you are not sure what step to take next.  As your catalyst for change, I can help you to overcome those feelings of doubt, I can help you find your direction and I can help you follow your dreams and “break your 4 minute mile”.

365 days – “Wow! What a difference a year can make”

One year ago, I started my new journey. Completely by accident I booked onto a Toby and Kate McCartney NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Foundation weekend. When I realised it was free I decided I would go anyway because it sounded “quite interesting”.

I attended the course and was blown away.  Not only by the lovely Toby and other fantastic delegates but also by the subject   How come these amazing tools are out there and yet I didn’t know about it. I started to think “Just imagine what I could do with these techniques and what it could do for others if I could share it”.

As an Accountant and Project Manager I tended to be risk averse and so although very excited by it I did not sign up for everything straight away. My heart told me to be brave and take the plunge but my head kept me in check and I only took the next step to take the Practitioner Level.

I spent 4 days in London next door to the building where I had started my working career 30 years previously (funny how things go in full circles) and these 4 days opened my eyes to more possibilities.  These 4 days were the start of me understanding what had held me back in my career and what had prevented me from following my passion 15 years ago.  It wasn’t my capability, it wasn’t time, it wasn’t even money, it was my fear of failure and not being good enough.

The Master NLP Practitioner training took me to a new level.  I started to realise that my interpretation of success was perfection; this being the case, no wonder I was scared of not being good enough. How could I possibly move forwards if every mistake I made, I considered as failure.  I knew I had to unlearn these thoughts and behaviours and NLP techniques have been the way for me to change.

It was in November in a quirky hotel called Kirkconnel Hall in Ecclefechan, Dumfries that I learned about my limiting beliefs and found ways to tackle them, and also really understood how passionate I feel about helping others to achieve what they are passionate about and that I can be the catalyst to make that happen – I am your catalyst for change.

I made some lifelong friends in Scotland who helped me to reach this understanding and unlocked the belief inside me by helping to build my confidence by their praise and gratitude they gave and continue to give to me.

A few more months on and 365 days since I attended the NLP foundation weekend,  I have now set up my own business, my own website and this is my first ever blog!

So how about you? Is there something you would like to change in your life? Are you looking to improve, develop or find personal success or feel that you are not fulfilling your potential?  Or maybe you do not know what your aspirations are but know that you want something different or want to be different.  As your catalyst for change, I can guide you on your journey of discovery and realisation.

Imagine yourself in April 2018 looking back over the last 12 months. Will you be saying “Wow what a difference a year can make!”