“You´re doing just fine.” On the Power of Trust and day-to-day Positive Feedback

Blind SymbolAs I´ve already told you in this post on the significance of empathy, one guest lecturer at MAPP 13/14 onsite has been Jane Dutton who is known best for her research and teaching on high-quality connections (at work).

Jane stopped her lecture once in a while to lead us through some practical exercises on that topic. On one occasion, half of the group was blindfolded and then led through the hallways of Penn´s Huntsman Hall by the other people for several minutes. Now, I´ve done this sort of thing a couple of times before in coaching seminars – but I´ve never had such a powerful realization as I had this time:

I was feeling pretty save and comfortable in the beginning. My partner guided me with her hands and simple verbal cues, telling me to go left and right whenever needed. At one point, we were walking straight along a stretched-out hallway.* All I had to do was walk straight-on – so my partner stopped giving verbal feedback.

Somewhere half-way down that hallway, there was an ever so small bump in the floor, I guess a spot where a cable lay beneath it. But it was enough to catch me off-guard and lessen my trust considerably. Upon understanding that, my partner started to behave very differently. Instead od telling me only about necessary changes, she started to give me constant feedback, mostly along the lines of:

You´re doing just fine. The way is free. Just keep on going!

What a tremendous change that was! A genuine difference that makes a difference! And a powerful metaphor for everyday (business) life…

Because, on a closer look, we´re running around blindfolded all the time. We hear, see, and know so little compared to the sheer endless amount of information that is out there and could be of value for us. What a difference it makes to just hear “You´re on the right track” from somebody who just happens to know a little bit more than you do.

So if you´re a boss, a parent, or just somebody who happens to care about other people: How about telling them that they´re doing fine at least once every day? Not because they did something special. Just because they need and deserve it…

 

*I still wonder what all those suited-up Wharton MBAs thought of our crazy group of people playing children´s games in their sacred halls…

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