Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today. Yesterday I confessed a painful struggle to a friend, made even more painful because I got the “wrong” kind of feedback. I needed sympathy and understanding; I received a lot of diagnostic, problem-solving responses.

    Good on me that I was able to tell her so. I explained that one of the difficulties of this particular trial comes from having to deal with other people’s responses–including hers. Good on her that she was remorseful and teachable–and resolved to be more careful with her feedback toward others in the future.

    It was a truly grace-filled moment. And it got me to thinking:

    Some types of feedback require more PERMISSION than others. Coaching and evaluation imply a privileged level of authority that must be asked for and earned.

    E.g., in the extracurricular world, coaches and “evaluators” (such as judges) have very specific authority and responsibilities. However, they have no dominion over the athlete until that individual joins the team or enter the competition. Additionally, coaches and judges are highly trained for those roles. Very few people on the field are authorized to coach/evaluate because most do not have the expertise to do so.

    It just got me to thinking perhaps one of the problems with unsolicited coaching or evaluation comes from the realization that the “feedback giver” is out-of-bounds: they’ve overstepped their authority and ability.

    Would love to explore this further. Just a thought.

    1. Pam — Great thoughts! Totally resonate with what I’ve been experiencing since reading the book.

      Annemarie and I had several important mother-daughter discussions on a recent 18-hour road trip.

      Every time they “went well,” it was because we were both clear on the kind of feedback we were needing, soliciting, giving, and had permission TO give.

      Every time things “went south” (we went through a full Kleenex box in two days!!!) it was because of a mid-stream switch of feedback type — “You were just Affirming me and now you’re Evaluating me?!?” — without permission or time for adjustment.

      At one point, I was AMAZED by how well she received some advice from me — advice that she could have heard as major negative evaluation — but she received it 100% as Affirmation/Appreciation and was excited by the suggestion because we had built up to that level of trust and kept checking in with each other back and forth during the discussion.

      I feel like this is going to revolutionize my most challenging relationships AND prevent future relationships from becoming harder than they need to be. And I don’t have to wait for someone else to change!

  2. Oh my! This is exactly my husband and I. We have communication meltdown, all the time! Just this past week, he was preparing tomatoes to can and was going on and on of how he was preparing the tomatoes and how he wanted it done. This is where I tend to tune him out somewhat….my bad….feeling guilty I tell him I can help and do some of the canning. So he leaves me in charge! Oh no! Now I wished I had listened to him more….so I can the tomatoes, every jar seals! Success! I’m feeling so proud of myself. He comes home, checks out what I have done, enters the kitchen, and I get chewed out for not making tomato sauce! He goes into a personal attack, of how I don’t listen and how I should come outside and learn about how to do canning. Personally I don’t want to learn from him, cause everything has to be done his way! I know the basics of canning, he seems to know it all and seems proud of the fact that his mother taught him. I’m just praying your talks on how not to take things personally will help me survive this marriage. I feel so battered and bruised almost everyday. Please help!

  3. Heather Donesky says:

    Denise; what a great piece of advice! This has been a frequent start for arguments in my married-into family. Someone asking advice or my opinion, then completely ignoring it. The person being asked doesn’t know if the person asking just wants affirmation; they think someone actually values their opinion. Briefly.
    Cheri, this blog is timely for me. In my volunteer position at a school we both know well, most of the feedback has been appreciative and kind. However, 2 emails yesterday, read after a long day at my real job, really upset me. I am still trying to sort out my response, but reading your blog helped me to understand what I wanted to be hearing from these people, and why it was so upsetting what I really heard from them. So, step 1 is done. Now to figure out step 2 & 3. I’m wondering if the fact that the books “Keep it shut” just arrived should help me with my decision. 😉 Maybe I’ll try to get ahold of one and do some reading before I respond.

  4. I encountered in a magazine for newly weds (sadly defunct shortly after) 24 years ago one of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard. The magazine article prefaced talking with new in-laws and extended family, this is it….
    Never ask for advice if you’ve already made up your mind and don’t intend to take it. I’ve used this gem of wisdom not only with my mother-in-law but also with my husband, children, friends and family. Sometimes we ask for advice when what we really want is affirmation. These two things are very different and when you really need affirmation and you get a heart-breaking, evaluation neither party benefits and the relationship suffers. Taking a moment to pause before I ask anyone for advice and ask myself do I really want advice and do I intend to take said advice has helped all of my relationships.

  5. But if you do this, and they don’t provide what yoy need, what was the point? And if one if them is the one you vowed “til death do us part” and the other the one you birthed, it’s not like you can just walk away like you can with other relationships.

    1. Great question. HARD question. And so very true about not being able to walk away. No easy answers, but you’ve got me pondering a post for Monday. In the meantime, {{{{{Pat}}}}}}.