1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it Psalm 139:1-6
Giving good feedback
I thought a lot about what to write as we get closer to celebrating Christmas. I began asking myself questions relating to building people up. This season really is about giving and I decided to focus on kind of showing people how to enter into the next year differently as we leave this year. The approach? Giving feedback.
It has a lot to do with motivation. My focus has more to do with how to help someone improve rather than boosting the existing excitement. I know so many people, if not everyone, is talking about the importance and beauty of Christmas, but I chose to zone in on the practical side of things, with the key element being our attitude. Feedback has so much to do with reflecting on what we have seen and heard. By nature it is easy to be so negative and let our opinions get the best of us. Unlearning all the wrong sides of us is a full-time job in itself, but it is very possible to do. That is why I want to introduce the sandwich method. I do believe it applies to every aspect of our lives. We review movies, software, apps and all sorts of things and that includes people. We review their looks and performance and some times both.
Let us observe the approach of a mentor to his protegé as he uses words that build and not destroy:
So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”
15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”
17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. 19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. Exodus 18:14-22
You can see how well Jethro handled Moses’ performance. He asked why Moses did everything alone. In essence he was telling him everything he did was good except there were some things he could improve on in order to do better. After he gave his suggestion on what he believed was the wise thing to do, he continued affirming him. He told him things will be easier if he followed his suggestion and continue performing the way he did with that in mind. That is what matters at the end of the day. The result you want is your feedback being taken and followed through. Check out Moses’ response to Jethro:
So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Exodus 18:24.
Using words that build not destroy
Your words can either lift someone up or pull them down. So few people are aware of this and those who are often think about what they want to say before the say it. Your words are building blocks in someone’s life. With every positive remark you place one block on top of the other until the monument that you established is complete in the person. All that will be left is for the person to see that in themselves. However when you use words that tear down a person on the inside, you not only obliterate the structure that was there already but also place it either beyond recognition or beyond repair! I know this so well because I am guilty of having done this numerous times in my and I am not proud of it.
Utilizing the term P.O.I: Points Of Improvement
Like I said before by nature it so easy to be so negative that is why we tend to do the wrong thing even in an attempt to “be nice.” It is about building someone, that is what needs to be kept in mind. What we need to do is learn to use the right term and think about the effect it ultimately has on the person. Our intentions don’t matter if our words don’t fulfill their purpose. Scary thought isn’t it? This is what the sandwich method is:
1) Say something positive. Commend the person, genuinely, on what they have done. Make them feel special, important and confident with themselves.
2) Transition into your points of improvement. So many times people say, “What you did wrong was…” or “What you need to do is…,” those are strong words! The even bigger mistake is jumping straight into that without doing step one first! Our opinions get in our way. We, instead, should say, “I love what you did/said here, but I believe it can look/sound better when you…” or “The performance (or whatever they do) was good, but I feel you can make it great by improving on these points/in these areas.” You do two things with that approach:
a) You gain their interest in what you want to say by still stating the positive.
b) You politely state what is wrong and how it can be improved.
The result? You leave them more open to listening to what you want to say.
3) Say something positive again. Like, “…other than that (which would be your points of improvement), it was amazing and I would love to see more from you.” When you do that you leave them excited about following your suggestion. That is, of course, the whole point. As long as they are confident in themselves that is all that matters.
NB: It doesn’t matter what the situation is. As long as it’s a feedback related question, the polite thing to do is respond in this manner. As soon as you hear, “How was that? What did/do you think? How do I look? How did you find that?” and other related questions, be ready to use the sandwich method. Only do that if you actually have something helpful to say, otherwise just be encouraging.
Establishing a culture of encouragement
I love what Hebrews says about this:
But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin Hebrews 3:13.
This is actually very simple. There are two points to draw from this:
1) Exhort, Encourage and Edify everyday. When it comes to building someone up it is not a once in a lifetime thing. You have to follow-up, not occasionally or once in while, but everyday.
2) You do it Today. If you can give someone a deed or word of encouragement today, then don’t wait! Act like it is an urgent thing and absolutely cannot wait, because the truth is, it can’t!
Encouragement is a process that never stops:
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
When you build someone up, it builds you up. Tear them down and it does the same to you:
1 Corinthians 12:26
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (ESV)
Lifting someone up is an act of love:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his (Jesus’) return is drawing near.”
Say the right things as you communicate your intent to be encouraging:
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Be creative as you encourage each other:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing (counseling) one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Stand together and support each other:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
See the person as and for who they are:
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Make someone feel better than the good you already think of them:
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.”
Be there for someone. Some times that’s all you need:
1 Thessalonians 5:14
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Let your words bounce of each other:
“As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
Be comforting the best way you can:
2 Corinthians 1:4
“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Let being peaceful together mean something to you:
So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
Let the Word of God be your first source of encouragement:
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As we become more like Him, let our words mirror His:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”
At the end of the day, this Christmas and in the years to come, we are to make every effort to lift someone up and make that a top priority in our to do lists. That should essentially be the very first resolution too! I will leave you with two things we must all strive for, and eventually, thrive in:
And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (quoted from Leviticus 19:18). You can’t really be good at encouraging others until you excel at encouraging yourself. Please see Sherline’s post on self-respect if you want to learn how to do that.
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!