Soliciting Feedback

Soliciting Feedback image

“Houston we have a problem…”

Receiving honest feedback or better yet, soliciting honest feedback is a terribly challenging thing to do initially. Often we are afraid of the answers. We just don’t want our eyes opened to them. We’re afraid of change and the emotional and physical toll on our psyche in accomplishing them. Lastly I feel that we’re also very much afraid of being accountable and taking responsibility for our actions and behaviors in how they affect others and how they affect our relationships. It’s just simply easier to stay comfortable in not knowing, not addressing and not being accountable.

Mind the Sting…

Don’t react to the initial sting of negative feedback, by becoming defensive or guarded. The sting is there to get your attention and to call upon your focus. Learn to recognize it as such. Critical events are confidence-testing junctures and almost always opportunities for learning even though they are moments in which you are managing conflict. With receiving feedback your competence and individual performance are being addressed by your partner as she is expressing her emotional needs. If unsolicited and the more raw, insightful and direct with regards to your long-standing personal traits or behaviors, these can very much trigger self-esteem and self-image issues of the ego in adverse ways. Recognize the value of this opportunity and the information being presented, as it will likely hold value you haven’t addressed or capitalized on and is coming from a trusted source with intimate knowledge of the subject at hand.

 “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them”

The initial shock to your system will dissipate shortly, if you have the appropriate frame of mind and stay positive by living in the moment. You’re a man. This is the time to display those qualities associated with stoic calm, self-control and fortitude of mind. This is your chance to showcase leadership through example and action that you are able to overcome immediate destructive emotions that will limit communication, reduce trust, marginalize respect and deter potential for personal growth. The qualities of being open, receptive and supporting of personal accountability to your behavior and how you make others experience being around and with you, is central to high emotional quotient leadership and diplomacy, which is essential to being successful in our world today.

I’ll take that criticism with a side of understanding, performance optimization and positive incentives, please!

Criticism is not appropriate feedback for a healthy and respectful relationship. Criticism without a better cognitive understanding of the issue being addressed, alternative task performance behaviors options and positive incentives or associations with performance objectives, creates stress and anxieties which left unchecked will fester into a negative relationship spiral of hostility and resentment, leading to deeper future tensions and conflicts. The point of feedback is not just to alert one to an issue, but to provide constructive means of developing awareness of behavioral consequences, alternative strategies, techniques or procedures to mitigate such performances, and to develop a bond between the parties of trust and respect throughout the interaction, which is the hallmark of developing empathy within a relationship.

Nagging is not your life on auto-correct!

If your partner is unaware of the importance of respectful feedback to a relationship , unfamiliar with actually providing constructive and supportive feedback, it is up to you as the leader within the relationship to maintain that boundary issue of respect, consideration and clear communication, by addressing this deficit by teaching and coaching them through the process of it. Often to have effective communication, we have to clear the channels of communication of what is hindering information navigation. Nowhere is this more important than when dealing with personal animosities and incompatibilities while trying to be emotionally supportive within an intimate relationship. We must first establish the patterns and formats of constructive communication prior to actually attempting to communicate.

Be Gracious…

What we do speaks louder than our words… When your partner is providing you sincere feedback, be gracious and extend a strong measure of gratitude by actively listening to what they have to say without distraction, without proffering excuses. Practice all the skills of an effective listener, by having open and receptive body language and posture, kind and welcoming facial expressions and actively encouraging them to continue to discussion the situation, it’s context, the specific performance tasks being addressed, with possible alternative solutions, as well as the incentives to doing so. This respectful behavior shows your partner that you care and respect them. That their concerns matter to you. That they matter to you.


Be aware of becoming defensive and that the more critical the feedback is, the more likely you are to feel defensive. It is completely alright to take a moment and acknowledge that you’re feeling vulnerable and defensive with your partner prior to continuing. Feel free to share that information openly. They likely are to relate that they are feeling the same way in addressing you and bringing it up. It’s common ground. It’s common ground you can work with. It’s common ground you both share in valuing the other. Acknowledging that can reduce the tensions, anxieties and frustrations a great deal prior to continuing.

Check the message

As you actively listen to your partner, seek out opportunities in which you can check and verify your understanding of what they are attempting to communicate to develop a solid consensus of what the real issue is. If you are unclear or unsure of their intent ask and probe for specifics to provide more clarification, until you are sure and they are aware of it. Make sure you are able to communicate back to them the context, the specific performance task in question, what it means to them, how it makes them feel and how its affects their perception of the relationship.

Seek out solutions

Compassionate leaders value others and their input in collaborative problem solving. They will seek out their input in crafting responsive solutions and smart answers to problems. They don’t believe they have and hold all the answers, nor believe that an awareness to a problem is the solution to it. Compassionate leaders have a solid belief that they can find and discover appropriate solutions in conjunction with others, and strengthen the relationship and themselves in the process. Compassionate leaders embrace the power of creativity in navigating challenges. They are able to successfully harness imagination and incentive to drive the engine of change. The power of solution seeking is about your values, confidence and connectedness with the issue and people surrounding them.

 Provide Thanks…

Never conclude a feedback session with “OK.” Much like the Olympic gymnastics, you need to stick the dismount. You need to provide and sincere ‘thank you’ and show your appreciation at their care and consideration, respect and support in voicing their concerns with you. You need to do the same in recognition of that fact. It’s not just good manners, it’s good relationship management.

It may be them, not you…

Not all feedback may be legitimate. You may actually disagree and that’s fine, as long as you clearly understand what your partner has tried to address, how it has made them feel and you’ve been respectful and open to their position and have taken all of it into consideration upon your conclusion. Other times you may not be as sure. At those junctures it would be wise to seek the insights and feedback from others you trust and respect, to gather more information and determine the reliability of the initial insights.

Follow up

While it is highly important to seek solutions to improve, make sure that your partner is prepared to assist you in recognizing when you’re making an attempt at change and to call attention to it while you are doing so in the form of praise, but to benchmark progress to review your performance over time to verify performance modification and acceptance. Doing so will help remove uncertainty which distracts from actual task performance, improve your motivation and lead to more efficient and healthy relationship.

Simple mind reading

When surveyed people were asked how happy they were in their relationship, which was remarkably accurate in predicting the longevity of the relationship over the course of the survey period. Short of mind reading our partners the best alternative is to solicit their opinions directly. Having the self-confidence, courage and integrity to seek their guidance, input and feedback during the relationship can help you mitigate facing the same issues, in a brutal fashion, when she leaves a failed relationship. Either way you’re going to get the feedback, one way or another.

Providing Feedback

“Without feedback you’re operating in a vacuum”

We live in a world and age of constant feedback, most of it subtle, others not so much. We recognize intuitively, if not rationally, that there is a direct correlation between performance and structured feedback, yet in an area as critical in our lives, such as an intimate relationship, we tend to provide little leadership and guidance to our partners, until a boundary has been breached. A strong, healthy relationship will be one in which both parties are able to grow and develop within a safe, secure and trusting environment. That growth and development will be fostered in part under an observance and guidance of well-meaning and appropriate feedback, geared towards removing conflict and improving the relationship bond.

Checking your relationship altitude

To perverse goodwill and not risk alienating our partner, structured feedback should only occur if there is truly a constructive purpose for it and you have a surplus reserve of emotional goodwill in supply. (There is a major difference between providing your partner feedback and becoming her parent.) You should be well versed in the 4:1 praise-criticism ratio where this is the baseline between respondents stating that they feel “OK” in their relationships and not being “OK”. Going below this ratio level and we are at risk of alienating our partner and ultimately bankrupting the relationship. This simple form of social diplomacy should be a basic guide and indicator of how much emotional reserve is available and potentially how well received your feedback will be, prior to deciding to initiate any structured feedback with your partner. If need be, build your relationship and partner up prior to putting any additional pressures on them or the relationship. Note: this does not mean metering our praise like a ‘yes, ladder’ just prior to going for your ‘sale’ of providing feedback.


Providing feedback in real-time may not be to everyone’s, nor the relationship’s best interests or option. Even though any incident or concern may be fresh in everyone’s mind, discretion is the better part of valor. Rather than focus on a general policy of ASAP in addressing an issue, a better and more appropriate approach of ‘As Soon As Reasonably Ready’ (ASAR) should be considered. This gives you enough time to collect your thoughts, prepare them and to initiate the discussion in a calm and reasonable manner, aka ‘like a man’.

Value Follows Energy

How you approach a critical conversation, how you initiate it, the tone and attitude of your words and the nature of your body language matters more than what you say to your partner. The first few seconds of the interaction sets the tone for everything that follows, whether your partner feels under attack or is being guided and received by a loving and caring hand. It is important to remember that value follows energy. Where is your emotional state when addressing your partner? Is it loving? Is it controlling? Is it angry? Is it upset? Is it condescending? Learning to control the emotional state of the conversation will do more for helping to direct the consequences of your conversation, than your words ever will.

A Spoon Full of Sugar

Un-prepare content is rarely palatable. In conveying your thoughts make sure to infuse and express appreciation for your partner. Doing so not only takes off the rough edges of the topic but adds fuel and incentive for initiating change. It is also important to express concern regarding the nature of relationship, as this discussion is about avoiding breaching potential boundaries or failed expectations, which will have a much greater damaging effect to the relationship if left un-addressed. You must be sincere in this regard. It communicates that you care and have respect for your partner. Without it you’re unlikely to foster and empower change.

The Power of “I”

Before launching into the specifics of your concerns it is vital that you place it in context. This is about how you feel. This is about what you have observed. This is what you are noticing. These concerns are about your perceptions. Make sure your partner understands that, by addressing your concerns with “I” statements. Once you have done so, then you are free to address your specific concern, while focusing on the behavior or actions in question. It is important to never make this about your partner, but upon specific behavior or issues. No where during this is it appropriate to bring in snarky comments, sarcasm or character attacks. Lead the relationship by example.

Channel Dr. Phil

Having just communicated the issue of concern, but before actually making your request for change, elicit your partner’s input into the situation. What’s driving the behavior? Why do they feel it’s appropriate? Are they aware of how this makes you feel? In conducting any emotional needs communication it is important to be honest about your own needs, while at the same time validating your partner’s, by providing respect in understanding them by applying the techniques of active listening, prior to soliciting change or proffering specific suggestions of alternative behaviors and collaboration in doing so.

The Cornerstone

Only after your partner has been heard, understood and re-affirmed are you truly free to make room for change. Having done so, frequently people will fail to verify acceptance or understanding back from their partner in exchange. Confirming that your partner hears, understand and recognizes the importance of what you have expressed, after-all, is the cornerstone of the entire conversation. Check their understanding not only of the issue at hand, but their commitment and agreement to amending the issue.

Bring it together

In going through the conflict management points of determining the context, setting the tone, taking perspective and discussing emotions it is vital to resolve any emotional needs communication with re-affirming your belief in your partner as a person and the value you hold for the relationship in general. We started this process with an understanding of the hazardous half-minute, end with the same sensitivity, caring, affection and appreciation.

Providing Praise

A small effort with a huge return

One of the basic findings in psychology is that rewarding a specific behavior increases the likelihood of the behavior being repeated… recognition and acknowledgement are an important reward and motivation for good work and strengthens the relationship in many ways. The more genuinely self-confident your partner is the better they are likely to perform in life and within your relationship. A key component in this particular case is raising your partners self-esteem by the appropriate utilization of praise. You can do a lot for your partner and your relationship by helping them to do so, as people want to know that their contributions are appreciated and valued. The failure to do so provides a situation for growing frustration and alienation, which can be enough to permanently influence an individual’s view of their own abilities, self-worth and self-respect.

Praise is judgment

Praise is a form of positive judging your partners performance based on how well it matches up to your internal sense of how the job should be done. If you are not conveying that, you are giving little guidance and providing no leadership within the relationship. The notion of not providing praise isn’t just bullshit, it is vastly unfair and disrespectful. Your partner should not have to be your mind reader and should expect the same consideration or better, than what you expect for yourself in the form of recognition and acknowledgement. You should be setting the tone for it in your relationship.


In order for praise to be effective it must be done in a timely fashion and delivered as soon as possible. When you notice results, tell them. Take the two seconds to stop whatever is going on and acknowledge them and their actions. This will not only signal your value of the experience but add to their own savoring of it by your enthusiasm and attention that is bared upon it. Even if it’s just a place holder for further appreciation, do so immediately. There are few situations or times when an honest “you fucking rock!” and a high-five isn’t appreciated.


An essential element that separates praise from flattery is the fact that it is genuine, it is laden with value, earned and has context or meaning grounding it. You want to avoid flattery, which is a false or excessive praising or fawning which is to seek out the other person’s approval or attention by acting ingratiatingly. These will be seen for what they are patronizing, hollow, meaningless and inconsequential.


Spending time reviewing your experiences with your partner is an important step in not just celebrating the mundane and obvious elements that you value them for, but for what often goes unspoken or unrecognized. What are the things that you values that comes to mind? Not what could be, but what is already there, what already attracts you, what readily keeps your attention, those things that made them different from every other woman. These are the foundational elements upon which your relationship is built. She should be well aware of your appreciation of them and your acknowledgment of them is essential to this.


People can be conditioned with hopelessly demanding standards. Repeated failure at winning approval teaches your partner that there is no appreciable relationship between effort and reward. The desire to be recognized, valued and considered is one of our deepest needs, if you are not providing it, they will naturally seek it elsewhere. Your failure to provide earned and justifiable recognition is an overt form of neglect that ultimately will not go un-noticed or un-resolved. Eventually everyone will turn to someone, or something else to have their needs fulfilled. Prevent this by having reasonable standards, expectations and provide recognition and show appreciation where it is earned.


In numerous third-party exit interview studies, researchers find that most parting employee’s feel ignored or taken for granted. When researchers actually tabulated the number of times praise was merited out compared to criticism and noted the ratios they found that when the ratios was 1:1 people felt as though they had a negative relationship. When it was 2:1 (praise to criticism), they still felt their manager was all over them. It wasn’t until it was a ration of 4:1 that people felt good about their relationship. We can’t expect our partners to be batting 1.000, but what we can do and make practice of is noticing the daily things they do, do and calling attention to them. Everyone loves to hear that they’re awesome, even if it’s just because she’s yours.


Providing simple praise, recognition and acknowledgement isn’t nearly enough. Your appreciation of them and their efforts must be evident in your body language and facial expressions when you provide it. Being comfortable and varied in your expressions of it help frame the context and attach meaning to the expressions given. Beyond that, the methodology of providing such forms of recognition and praise should be varied as well. Spend the time to create unique and differing ways to communicate this. Yes, cards are appreciated and valued, more so when they are unexpected and don’t fall on commercialized holidays of remembrance or acknowledgement. They don’t have to be fancy. The most caring are not. A meaningful, touch, a caress, a smile across a room can have and leave profound and meaningful memories.


You should be as enthused about your partner playing for your team (relationship) as you would be supporting any team or sport. How different would your relationship be if you were truly their biggest fan and supporter and overtly so? Providing public praise, talking her up with your friends, family and co-workers is a proxy for such, more so if the individual your espousing her qualities to is some other woman. After all she’s the one you chose. (If you can’t do this we need to be having a different conversation). Sadly in most relationships this doesn’t typically occur until after the relationship has failed and she’s moved onto a new relationship and new cock… then everyone hears about how wonderful she was and how endeared to her you were… which is far too late. Vastly better to have made those sentiment know well in advance of any turbulence in the relationship.


In intimate relationships we should be going well beyond providing frequent, timely, varied and public praise. We need to be finding those elements that we highly cherish, hold so dear that they make our partner completely unique, valued and we should be expressing them. Yes, this is a form of pedestalization. It should be, otherwise you shouldn’t be in a relationship with her. We put things on pedestals that we hold dear, that are highly valued, appreciated and ultimately want to protect. Our relationships should be one of our many treasured possessions, that matches our own sense of self-worth, self-respect, and self-esteem through living a life we desired and acted on to create. Do any less is acting ignobly.