Journal Entry #14: Giving Feedback (Everyday Vulnerability Series, Part 3/5)

This is my third post of a five-part series on what vulnerability looks like in my everyday life. Sometimes, I’m being vulnerable; other times, I’m reacting to someone else’s vulnerability. Both have required a lot of courage.

I hope they resonate with you and inspire you to live more vulnerably, too!

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Have you ever been criticized so harshly that you wanted to give up? At a recent Toastmasters meeting, I wondered whether my feedback was creating that experience for someone else.

I volunteered to evaluate a new member’s speech. He was giving the same speech again and supposed to incorporate another Toastmaster’s feedback from the first attempt. I expected him to do especially well because unlike other fresh-faced, new members, he’d kept coming back and participating in meetings.

But, when I compared my notes against his first evaluator’s, I noticed that more than half of the feedback from his first try hadn’t been acted on. His delivery still had the same kinks; the text on his powerpoint was still too small. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I also didn’t want to discourage him from coming back. “How much should I say?” I wondered.

When I shared my thoughts with him, I could tell he was engaged but his body language was definitely going from open to closed. I felt awful. After asking me to explain one last point, he averted his eyes and said, “Okay, bye.”

Did he see his outcome differently? What work, if any, had he done that I wasn’t aware of? I plan to circle back and ask.

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