The challenge of giving and receiving feedback is to get people to move past the negative. The problem is that our brains can’t just stop doing something without replacing it with something else. Telling someone (or yourself) that something is wrong doesn’t tell them what to do instead.
The trick for feedback is to pair the positives with positive actions they (or you) can take. A system called +EBI can help, which stands for “Positive (+), Even Better If.” The positives are what for what is already strong. The phrase, “even better if,” is for actions.
If you’re reviewing something for yourself or somebody else you take notes in two columns: + and EBI. When you give feedback, you then pair your EBI with a positive reason why that thing is worth improving in the first place. Focus on the positive in your feedback and you’ll get better at getting better.
– This week I want to talk about getting better at getting better. How can we better give and receive feedback so that we can all get better? I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. That’s what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread. And do my a favor, please like and subscribe.
When we want to get better at getting better, we want to get better at giving or receiving feedback either to ourselves or to other people. We need to understand something that most of us intuitively know to be true: that when we focus on the negative we can’t move forward.
It makes sense that if you’re trying to get better you’re focusing on the thing that needs to get better. But that’s not how our brains work. Our brains can’t just stop a thing. It has to be replaced with a thing. So just telling somebody that something is wrong, telling yourself that something is wrong, doesn’t give you what to do with it.
Not to mention that when you’re focused only on what goes wrong what you give attention to grows stronger. Which means the wrong stuff grows stronger, at least in your head. And you can get to a point where you or the person you’re talking to feels like they can never get better.
So how do we make sure that the right things grow stronger with that attention? Well, the answer’s pretty simple. We need to focus on not only the positives but what to do. We need to pair the positives with positive actions we can take. Actions to improve whatever it is we need to improve with our message, our presentation, content, anything.
A few years ago I learned a system for keeping me out of the trap of focusing too much on the negative. And it’s a system called +EBI. The plus stands for “positive” and the EBI stands for “Even Better If.”
So the plus, the positives is what’s already strong, already good about whatever it is that you or someone else is working on, and the EBI is even better if. “Even better if” you did x or y or z. It’s the actions.
And here’s simply how it works. If you’re reviewing something, whether for yourself or somebody else. You’ve got two columns on a piece of paper. You’ve got the positives, the pluses, the strengths, and you’ve got the EBIs. The things that you can specifically tell them an action for how to make it better.
Here’s the kicker for making sure it’s really powerful. Pair the EBI with a positive. Make sure that every time you give somebody, including yourself, something to improve and how, it’s linked to a positive reason why that thing is worth improving in the first place.
Let’s say that you’re reviewing your own presentation. You figure out by delivering it in a rehearsal, either to other people or to yourself, that a certain example just isn’t working.
Now you could say to yourself, “Well that’s a crappy example, we should just get rid of it.” But with +EBI the first thing you would say is that point that I’m trying to illustrate is really important. It’s a really good point, it’s a really good lesson. But “even better if” I found a piece of information, a better story to back it up, maybe a simpler story, one that doesn’t take as much time.
Instead of saying, “Well that was crap and there’s nothing you can do about it,” now you’ve got something that says, “Alright, I need to find a simpler story because this point is strong.” By pairing those things you’re always pairing the positive with a positive action and that is how to get better at getting better.
I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. That was this week’s episode of Find the Red Thread. If you need another set of eyes on how you can get better you might be interested in what I call the Draft Review Product. You can see more about that on tamsenwebster.com/consulting. That’s where I take a look at what you’re already doing, a message you’ve already developed, or a presentation you’re already giving, and give you that +EBI feedback across the concept, the idea, the delivery, and all your support and illustrations. I hope you tune in next week to Find the Red Thread. As always, if you like this episode like it, comment, and subscribe.