Storytelling and It’s Relationship With Feedback

We have all been graded, rated and ranked. Coached, screened and scored. What I am always confused about this process is, how does it help us become better?

After years of frustration with the grading in  Feedback Forms and Performance Management Reviews I have finally been able to work out what is wrong about the way we give feedback at work and at home.  My learnings are from Thanks for the Feedback; The Science and Art of Recieving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

Feedback often comes in the forms of abstract labels like

  • You could have done better in that presentation
  • You lacked connection with the audience
  • The workshop overall satisfaction is 7/10
  • You are rated average for your service
  • You were not focussed
  • You are careless

The reason why we receive information like this is because people don’t offer raw observation as feedback.They first interpret or filter what they see based on their own assumptions, values and beliefs.

Say you have data on Mary who works in your sales team. Your data includes her sales pitches, revenue generation, customer feedback, her attitude. You are yourself an experienced sales person and have your own experience to inform the judgement on Mary. You interpret all this data and turn in to a label that Mary is a average sales person.

What we are really interested in is those stories in the data that leads to the interpretation. Most people do not share data not because they enjoy not doing so but because the process of moving from data to interpretation happens in the blink of an eye and is largely unconscious.

Artificial Intelligence expert Roger Schank made a great observation.

While computers are organised around managing and accessing data, human intelligence is organised around stories. We take selective data and make an immediate interpretations resulting in instant judgement laced labels.

  • You could have done better.
  • You lacked connection.
  • You did not put your best foot forward.
  • You don’t work hard
  • You are not focussed

So, what can we do to give better feedback?

Firstly, we need to recognise that there are two problems with this kind of label feedback.

  • We don’t know what exactly the feedback given means?
  • Even if we understand what the feedback means, we wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Good Feedback involves a certain level of storytelling where you talk about what happened and then justify the interpretation you made.

Look at the example below

Storytelling Feedback Singapore Workshop Training

If you want to give feedback that someone could have done better, then in the looking back part of the feedback you story tell about exactly happened and based on that make a point like-  you can do better. You can then give advice in looking forward

Our Storytelling Workshops involve a lot of practice and feedback. To ensure the participants get most out of our Storytelling Workshops we focus on effective feedback too.

I am currently posting my key learnings from Thanks for the Feedback; The Science and Art of Recieving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen on our Instagram @narrativestorytelling every Tuesday under our #TuesdayTips from what I am reading.

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"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"