“What does it take to get a compliment?”

It was my senior year of softball in high school and I was feeding balls through a pitching machine to a teammate who was taking batting practice.  Having taken years of batting lessons, I sounded like a broken record, “eye on the ball…raise your hands…don’t turn your head…shorten your swing…”

Eventually, my teammate became frustrated with my constructive criticism, “Michelle, what does it take to get a compliment from you?!  That was a really good hit and you still told me that there was something that I could have done better.  For once, I would just like to get a compliment from you.”  My intentions were good, I wanted to see my teammates succeed at batting.  However, my delivery of constructive criticism needed improvement.

My teammate probably doesn’t realize it, but what she told me that day during practice has been some the most important feedback to both my professional career and personal life.  This situation made me realize that I wanted to get better at delivering constructive criticism.  It’s changeling to deliver constructive feedback so that it is received in a positive light and it’s even more challenging when you don’t practice giving feedback. Being a MTMC coach, I get to practice giving feedback every time I go to work.  I find this to be one of the most important skills that I have developed as a coach because feedback is crucial to any job.  It’s common to give feedback to your boss, your coworkers, and your team.

When I played softball, my teammates were frustrated with the fact that constructive feedback was not balanced with supportive compliments because it was something that they worked hard at and it meant something to them.  More often than not, students have also put a lot of effort into their writing and its important to be supportive as coaches.  I have learned that emphasizing the positive aspects of the student’s work goes a long way in an appointment and that a compliment can be the difference between a productive appointment and an unproductive appointment where the student becomes defensive or withdrawn.  Delivering balanced feedback is important both in and outside the MTMC.

– written by Michelle Horde

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