• Immediate Needs

    updated 8.29.11

    We do what we do as missionaries supported by people like you.

    We also prefer to give away as much content as we can, and not cloud that issue with a lot of public requests. That said, we do have specific needs that are met by people who believe the work we do has value.

    If you'd like a short list of immediate financial needs, you can find it HERE.

    Thanks!

    Note: This will be updated regularly

  • Recent interview on the Patricia King Show.

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When Feedback Works

If you’ve ever worked with a sound system, you know feedback – that ringing sound that grows in intensity until it deafens everyone in the room – is the enemy.  It’s to be avoided at all cost – in fact, you’ll see the person running the sound board pull all the levels down to zero if necessary to avoid feedback.  It’s just that unpleasant.

Regrettably, people often respond to personal feedback regarding something they’re working on in the same manner.  At the first sign that someone is going to make a suggestion, they pull all the sliders back to zero so they can’t hear what they’re trying to say.    It’s understandable, to a degree, because all of us have gotten unsolicited, unhelpful feedback in the past.  It’s easier just to tune it out.

I’m thinking about all this because the other night after the Zoe Foundation Fundraiser, someone gave me feedback on the presentation.  You have to understand that I’ve given the talk that I gave that night at least three other times. I’ve tweaked it and massaged it already.  In my mind, it’s as good as it’s going to get…yet this person presented a few ideas to me that I found myself very receptive to.  When I thanked them for their input, I was genuinely thankful….not just trying to move them along.

I spent part of the next day thinking about what made this experience so much different than others I’d had.   Why was I so receptive?  And could I learn to give people feedback in such a way that they would hear it like I heard this individual?  What did they do that helped me put down my defenses long enough to consider what they were saying?

1)  Ask Permission

The individual I spoke with Saturday night literally started with a question – “Could I talk with you at some point about some of the things you said tonight?”   Instantly I knew this would not be a 30 second conversation, but they signaled a willingness to wait.  They weren’t looking to monopolize my time and were open to having the discussion later.

Hostile critics are usually not willing to delay their download.  Genuinely helpful people know that you’re busy and are happy to do it at a later time.  I was so intrigued, we pulled up two chairs and dove right in.

2)  Establish Credibility

In this case, the individual was an adoption professional.  They spoke to me about technical things I’d addressed and told me how I might better clarify them and what pitfalls I might be susceptible to using the examples I was using.

She didn’t tell me the music was too loud or that roast beef would have been a better choice than the chicken dinner.  She might have had opinions about those things, but she kept her input in her area.   If you’re giving broad feedback across multiple areas, you’re  not being helpful.  You’re probably just venting.

3) Tell Them Why You Care

This was not a disgruntled person.  This was a person full of hope that The Zoe Foundation could be all that it should be.  She told me that she leaned back during the presentation, wondering if I would hit the issues that were important to her.  When I closed with a segment on caring for birth moms, the whole thing mattered to her at a greater level.  She was not offering wanton observations, she was sharing her heart and experience because she wanted The Zoe Foundation to succeed.

4)  Be Open to Questions

Ten minutes into our discussion, I realized I had a rich resource and started asking the questions.  I discovered that there were a few other things she had some feelings about but had chosen not to speak all of her mind, assumable because she didn’t want to come across as negative.  By this time, though, I was asking for it. Solicited feedback is always valued more than unsolicited feedback.

I’m still processing some of the things that this person shared with me.  When I deliver this set of ideas next time, I can guarantee you I’ll do a few things differently.  Just as importantly, next time I sit down and give someone feedback, I hope I do so in the same way.  That was a gift to me.

All that to say thanks to a tactful adviser from Atlanta.  You probably taught me more than you realize.

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2 Responses

  1. thanks for sharing this. it’s an opener;eyes, mind, heart.

  2. Haha…you just gave someone a great teaching and for the rest of us…a great reminder. Thanks Randy! Blessing on you and your family!

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