This Year I Resolve to Give (and Ask For) More Feedback

Recently I joined a yoga studio for more exercise and a peaceful place to settle my busy brain. For anyone considering yoga, I highly recommend it. Not only is it a challenging whole-body workout – it encourages focus and presence in the moment. Something I’m striving for.

What I didn’t expect from yoga was getting jazzed about giving and receiving feedback.

If you’ve never tried yoga, here are the basics. Each class begins in a quiet room – generally the lights are off and everyone lies down on a mat or sits still – there is no talking. In this calm atmosphere minds are cleared of the events of the day and “intentions” are set for the class. This means simply deciding what to achieve in this hour.

Once class begins, with lights on, the instructor guides the class through a series of poses. Each class is a little different but the basic process is the same. You follow a series of poses. They are performed in accordance with instructions verbalized by the teacher. It’s up to the individuals to listen and execute the pose. The instructor provides clear expectations such as lower the shoulders, tuck the tail bone, or lengthen an arm stretch. If you don’t listen or lose attention even for a few seconds, you might miss an important instruction and therefore not achieve full potential of that pose.

At the same time, the instructor is walking around the room. In a lower voice, she may speak directly to individuals providing one-on-one coaching addressing a certain need for that person.

The room has mirrors on three sides which also give you a chance to see yourself. In a glance, you can see if you are meeting the expectations of the pose or need to make an adjustment.

At first, this constant feedback was off putting, but after several sessions I noticed my balance was improving, the poses came more easily and I was increasing my focus. All because I was applying the feedback.

While many of us might feel “stretched” at work and home, I have learned a lot from my new adventure, and I’d like to share a few tips from my yoga experience on giving and receiving feedback.

  1. Open yourself to feedback – Give yourself feedback first. Feedback is there if you observe and listen for it. Ask yourself: What am I doing well? What could I do better? Ask someone else to be your mirror to help you find your blind spots.
  2. Set your intention – When you give feedback think how you can offer insight to someone with your feedback. What do you want to do? Provide instruction? Point out a thing well done? Correct an unproductive or harmful behavior? Get someone back on track? There are many purposes for feedback and knowing what you’re aiming for helps meet the goal.
  3. Give feedback in the moment – When you notice something that needs to be addressed, do it. Don’t wait too long or you’ll forget about it or lose the urgency which leads me to my next point.
  4. Don’t overthink it – Feedback doesn’t have to be perfect. If someone is doing a rockstar job tell them. If you see a place where something needs to change or improve, ask a question, suggest a slight correction, tell a short story to help create the picture of success. The more often you give feedback, the easier it gets, and the more frequently you will provide it and seek it for yourself.
  5. Be caring in your feedback – Feedback can be offered from a place of caring – without anger or emotion – this increases the chance it will be heard and implemented.
  6. No feedback can be disappointing – If I don’t get personal feedback during class, I feel that I’ve missed something. I want someone to care enough about me to tell me what I can do better. You may start with, “Can I give you some feedback?” Not only do you get permission, but it also alerts someone that you are sharing information that can be helpful and important.
  7. Keep listening – So often feedback is right there for us, but we don’t hear or notice it. Keep your ears and eyes open, and you may be surprised how you can grow and stretch.

As you make your new year’s commitments, consider the regular practice of giving and asking for feedback; it’s a cornerstone of everyone’s personal and professional improvement.

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About the author


Gretchen Rosswurm is vice president of global corporate communications and corporate social responsibility at Celanese, a global chemical company in Dallas. Throughout her career, she has advised leaders on communication strategies to enhance employee engagement and improve business results. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering in the community, playing Words With Friends and writing short fiction.

There are 9 comments. Add yours.

  1. Mark Oberle says:

    I’ll have to trust you on the yoga stuff since I can’t even touch my toes – but I love the thoughts on the feedback. Practical, informative, easy to implement. This year I also resolve to give (and ask for) more feedback – and to touch my toes.

  2. Linda Mock says:

    Thanks so much for putting yoga in a professional context. I have been doing yoga for many years and it is amazing how much more I am in touch with my body and how much better the mechanics of my body function. I do yoga early in the morning when it is quiet. I start the day without a “full head” and a limber body.

  3. Raquel Robinson says:

    Great article, Gretchen. I especially like No. 6 and asking for permission to give feedback. I often struggle with giving feedback and this is a simple question to ask to break the ice and see if the person is open to what follows. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Ivo Oerlemans says:

    Okay, I confess…I practice yoga; it is nice complementary to running and flexing stiff muscles.
    I concur on your message on the power of instant feedback. Asking permission to provide feedback is great advice and I commit to put it to practice more often. Thank you for sharing.

  5. gretchen says:

    Ivo, kudos to you for practicing yoga. Usually 50% of the classes I attend are men. And it has helped me work out chronic back pain. That’s feedback from my body telling me I’m doing something right. Namaste.

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