A No Cost, Yet Priceless Gift for the Holidays (and Always)

The annual tradition is upon us…the Thanksgiving Day Parade ended with Santa Claus officially opening the ‘Holiday Season’ (despite the decorations and music that have been in malls for weeks!).   The gift buying frenzy ramped up on Black Friday and will continue right through the holidays.  But, as the saying goes, ‘the best things in life are free’ and one of the best free gifts we can give to others is the Gift of Feedback.

The Gift of Feedback, a phrase heard in a lot of places, but which I am borrowing from Princeton Toastmasters, is truly one of the most personal and thoughtful gifts a person can receive.  The true Gift Giver is taking the time to generously offer his/her opinion on your work, and provide some constructive ideas for how to make it better, if appropriate.  In this ideal world, the person receiving this gift accepts it with an open, non-defensive mind, asks questions to learn more about the Giver’s thoughts, and most importantly, offers a sincere thanks for the Gift.

However, not all worlds are ideal, and this time honored tradition of Gift Giving can sometimes not work out as well as one would hope.

  • Sometimes the Gift Giver does not take the time or make an effort to find a meaningful gift for someone, and therefore it is not well received (for example, giving an elegant box of chocolate to someone who has a nut allergy and therefore can’t eat them).
  •  In other cases, the person receiving the gift doesn’t want it, not matter how perfectly selected, and winds up being resentful about having to return it.

The same can be true for feedback. Sometimes, it is not delivered in a way that is helpful to the recipient. And sometimes the recipient is not open to receiving the Gift of Feedback!  To ensure the gift is received and appreciated, here are some tips to consider:

When giving the Gift of Feedback:

  • Check to be sure the recipient of your Gift is ready to receive it
  • Be sure you are CONSTRUCTIVE in your comments, and avoid words like ‘stink,’ ‘horrible,’ and ‘pathetic’ (and words like them) at all costs
  • Offer some concrete suggestions on how to improve areas you have pointed out as opportunities for growth.

When receiving the Gift of Feedback:

  • Be open minded and not defensive… this will allow you to hear the valuable insights the person giving you the Gift has to offer
  • Ask questions to ensure you fully understand how to use the Feedback
  • SAY THANK YOU for this valuable Gift!

If you want to avoid the hassle of the malls and the traffic on the road, consider giving the Gift of Feedback this season.  And the beauty is, it can be given all year long, as often as you feel like giving it!

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