Giving Feedback: Say What You Mean!

Think of all the words in the English language that can be used in different ways. Then add all the new “slang” words that keep popping up. And don’t get us started with social abbreviations and emojis. LOL! 😊 Giving feedback isn’t as simple as it used to be. What means something to you may mean something completely different to another. It’s time to get back to the basics. People, from Boomers to Gen Xers, use so many words incorrectly that our culture and the way we communicate can be challenging to understand. And speaker and comedian, Jill Shargaa, believes that we’re taking the meaning out of some very powerful words.

Take the word love, for example. Love is a strong word. It should only be used when you really, truly mean it. Use it when it’s about a person. You love your spouse. You love your kids. But how many times have you walked up to someone and said, “I love that sweater you’re wearing!” or “I love the work you did on that presentation.” Do you really love it? Do you really have heartfelt feelings about her sweater or about his PowerPoint presentation?

Or the word hate. Many small children use this word daily, and we’re sure you can relate. “I hate green beans.” Hate defined in the dictionary means intense hostility deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. Are our kids really intensely hostile because they are scared of those delicious and nutritious little green vegetables?

If you have everything, you value nothing.

– Jill Shargaa

 

In the video, Shargaa gives a comical presentation about the word “awesome.” Every single thing these days is awesome: sandwiches, PDF documents, your new chair. She says, “if you have everything, you value nothing.” And because of that exact statement, she stresses the importance of using words as they’re meant to be used. Throughout her presentation, she gives ten examples of things that are truly awesome: the Pyramids, the Grand Canyon, the invention of Photography…

So what’s the problem?

Think about it for a second. Not only is this challenging for people with differing backgrounds and from different age groups, as a manager, it takes the “oomph” out of any compliment you may give to an employee. Let’s say one of your team members created an Excel spreadsheet exactly the way that you wanted it. It was clear and easy to understand. You receive the spreadsheet and you say, “Awesome job, Jill!”

A month later, that same team member invents the iPod. Again you say, “Awesome job!” Is the Excel spreadsheet really just as “awesome” as inventing a device that helped shape technology today? It’s important to be as clear and descriptive as possible. Otherwise giving feedback is simply a waste of time.

Now, here’s the same scenario with a different response. Why not say exactly what you mean? “Jill, thank you for the spreadsheet. It was exactly what I wanted and made the data very easy to interpret.” If you use the same word all the time, how do your employees really know when they’ve done something truly amazing?

 

It’s important to be as clear and descriptive as possible. Otherwise giving feedback is simply a waste of time.

 

So the next time you want to tell someone that you love their hair, hate that color, or that they did an awesome job, stop and think about the words you use. Say what you mean – and mean what you say. Let’s put the awe back in awesome.

For more on giving feedback, here’s an article on what NOT to do.

If you have everything, you value nothing. - Jill Shargaa Click To Tweet It's important to be as clear and descriptive as possible. Otherwise giving feedback is simply a waste of time. Click To Tweet