Home Applications Organiz Develop (OD) Edie Seashore: On Coaching

Edie Seashore: On Coaching

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Edie:  I think they have to be very clear what those are. They have to reflect on their choice of feedback, for instance as a coach—whether they’re giving feedback that will actually in any way make any sense or be useful to the person who’s receiving the feedback. First of all, they have to find out what would be useful to this person. Giving feedback without having any clarity about on what the recipient would like feedback—this is sort of a shot in the dark. You’re not giving it necessarily because of a request from the coachee. You’re giving it as something that is your choice, and maybe it’s not even relevant feedback. Often we give feedback for some reason, for ourselves, with no relevance to the person who’s supposedly the target of our feedback.

I think, first of all, coaches have to have a different frame on feedback than most people seem to have. Secondly, I think that people need to have an awareness of themselves so that they can get in touch with their perception and see how colored their perceptions may or may not be by their belief systems. Then when they give feedback, they be clear that this is where it’s coming from and expect the person can take it or leave it. While we’re at it, there is considerable confusion around some of the tests that are given about how people see other people. The source of the feedback from these tests is anonymous—but you don’t know from whose point of view you’re getting the information. I think there is only one way that you can possibly see whether it makes any sense to you or no; you must be able to have somebody help you see it at the time when it’s occurring so that you can experience it.

If somebody says one of the problems is that I talk too much and don’t know when to stop, just hearing that isn’t going to help me. But, if I can say show it to me at a time in which I’m actually doing it, then I can understand what it is that other people are seeing. For some people it may be too much, and for some people it may not be enough. But, at least I’ll know what the behavior was that had this response. So, anonymous feedback, I think, is confusing to put it mildly. Also, feedback out of context, that is to say, when you can’t have a clear example that you are conscious of experiencing, then I think it’s abstract.

Dorothy:  In terms of your perspective where feedback is used frequently as a tool of development. What’s not really acknowledged is that it depends on whose feedback it is.

Edie:  Yeah, exactly. It’s not really information until you have the context.

Dorothy:  Looking at how 360s are now used in organizations. They’re used as the platform to begin so many coaching assignments.

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