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Am I this person?

“I think Gill How is not the trainer suitable for our company. Her manner is too slow, I felt she is not interested in the topic herself. The session was extremely boring.”

Or this person?

“Gill is the best trainer I have ever seen. She is a good motivator. She is very patient, understanding and helps to start talking even if you’re shy. Glad to visit her sessions.”

How can one person have this range of feedback over the space of two days?

(I was delivering Negotiation and Personal Resilience modules to a company in St Petersburg).

I’m curious, which of these (if either), am I to you?

Which of these qualities do you recognise in me?

Let’s take the so called “negative” or difficult feedback first.

I’m willing to accept that for some people my pace is slow. If you are not wanting to reflect, attach learning to models, be encouraged to think for yourself, my pace can feel slow, maybe even, as this delegate said, boring.

I can appear not to be interested in something. I can stand a little too patiently allowing delegates to speak. My enthusiasm can be quiet, not immediately obvious or loud.

What about the so called “positive” or easy to receive feedback?

I recognise these qualities too. I identify with helping people find their own motivation, helping them to stretch and grow. I am glad they are valuable to people who want to be open to them, and I am glad the learning was useful to this person too.

However, although the positive feedback is nicer to hear, there is a risk I can take these qualities for granted (“I know I am like that”).

Without reflection, there is a risk that the positive feedback doesn’t necessarily help me work out how to become better still.

And there is a risk that I find the negative feedback so difficult I turn away and don’t look to see how it can help me grow.

Here’s the thing. Both pieces of feedback are just one perspective, one point of view. They probably tell me as much about the person saying them, as they say about me.

What we’re talking about here is the principle of psychological projection*.

You too may find a range of feedback turning up in the work you do. You may find your feedback equally diverse and confusing.

Even when you understand about projection, feedback can still be hard to handle.

Earlier in my career I would have been devastated by the first piece of feedback and given too much credence to the second. Even this time, my initial reaction to the “negative” feedback was shock.

However last week, it took me much less time to process the “difficult” feedback though, to see it in context, and to come up with some ideas for things to do things differently. (Smile a little more whilst being patient, for example…)

My coaching supervision and reflective practice has taught me how to stand outside of feedback. It has taught me how to develop my own opinion of my growing edge as a trainer, facilitator and coach. It has taught me to use feedback offered, rather than be defined by it.

Is it time for you too to part company with the “yo-yo” of the emotional highs and lows that come with feedback?

If you would like to be less reliant on the roller coaster of feedback that other people give you, this idea may also help you. Learning to stand outside of feedback and create your own way forward is a valuable thing to do.

Reflective practice is something I am passionate about and something that, as a coaching supervisor I can offer you. See the testimonial below.

Gill is a Leadership Developer, National Training Award winner and Master Executive Coach who loves working with groups of people to bring their learning alive.

If you are looking for a new associate or to add to your own internal team, get in touch. Gill is always interested in new possibilities to work together to create outstanding learning and results.

Other quotes from the training:

  • Thank you for the session “Personal Resilience”, it was like a medicine that really took on time.
  • Gill How impressed me, I have learned a lot from the dialog with her, when we played the situation with tough message delivery.
  • The professional material provided by Gill was very helpful and she was very friendly and easygoing.
  • I already used Gill’s advice received during the sessions six months ago and it worked. I am really glad to attend these new modules with her.
Testimonial from coaching supervision client:
Empathy, challenge and the ability to give tough feedback in a gentle or humorous way are key attributes needed in coaching supervision and Gill possesses these in abundance. The ability to cut through a client’s perception of what the problem is and help them confront the underlying issue is something that cannot be undervalued; Gill achieves this with humility and skill. She is willing to give enough of herself with individual anecdotes and self effacing modesty to win total trust. A session with Gill provokes the mindset and confidence to make changes and confront realities. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
Dena Arstall


*From Wikipedia – Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.[1] For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

Photo credit: SparkSync

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


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