If you have followed all 9 prior posts in the series on parenting feedback you have considerable information on how to make it go well. However, how confident are you that every time you give a parent feedback it will go well? We ask this question midway through the Feedback Workshop, and very few participants feel confident. We then challenge, “You are going to elicit strengths, protect self-esteem, focus on future improvements, have a helping spirit, and provide specific prescriptions for improvement. What can possibly go wrong?” Despite all the effort, almost no one feels confident. Even when we follow all the steps, we realize at some point that we can only control what we do, not the other person’s response.
We Only Control Our Own Actions
In the Feedback Workshop, we demonstrate this with an exercise. While discussing the concept of not being able to control the other person’s response, I hold an eraser. Then I stop talking while looking at one of the participants. I then make a throwing motion with the eraser and ask “Are you ready?” I then throw the eraser as gently as I can. At the moment the eraser leaves my hand, I have no more control of the outcome. In one workshop, way back in the day of chalkboards, when I tossed the eraser, the learner didn’t move. The eraser hit her in the middle of the forehead. The horrible memory of the chalk mark on her stunned forehead remains decades later. Though, to my shame, it served as a perfect example of the point. This fear of the feedback receiver’s response, or lack of response, frequently inhibits our giving feedback.
What can we do to improve the likelihood of parents receiving feedback well?
One of the most powerful means of overcoming the problem is by providing a model of seeking and receiving feedback well. Many of us lack good role models of receiving feedback, just as many receiving parenting services haven’t had good parenting role models. Your modeling of receiving feedback can be very powerful.
Practical Tip: Before Starting Parenting Assessments, Model Receiving Feedback
In preparation for the time in the future when you will be giving feedback, start modeling receiving feedback very early in your relationship. In addition to showing how to do this, it establishes the norm in your relationship of receiving feedback well.
The combination of modeling the skills of receiving feedback and establishing the norm of giving feedback set you up for success in discussing your parenting assessment. Quite understandably, a parent might be hesitant to give feedback to a service provider. To make the parent feel safe in giving you feedback, you can point out something that didn’t go perfectly while you were together, and ask for suggestions for what you could do better.
Setting up a target for feedback makes the parent feel safer in giving feedback. When the parent responds, use your active listening skills, so they know they are being heard and respected. Then act on the suggestion, so you can demonstrate following up. Finally, check in with the parent to see if they note your improvement. Thus, you are modeling the behaviors of someone receiving feedback well. After conducting a parenting assessment, when the time comes for you to suggest a change in the parent’s behavior, the parent has a model to follow and you have established a norm in your relationship of receiving feedback.
Ending each session with eliciting a parent’s feedback gives you repeated opportunities to reinforce the norm of skillfully receiving feedback. In addition, you will be molding your services to meet the parent’s needs and preferences, which can improve retention. As an added benefit, the increased skill in receiving feedback may translate to other aspects of the parent’s life, providing an extended benefit.
What are the skills involved in receiving feedback? Stay tuned for the next post in the parenting assessment feedback series.
How do you model receiving feedback for the parents you serve? Let us know in the comment section below.
Learn More About the Feedback Workshop.
Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation on How the Feedback Workshop Can Improve Your Parenting Services. The consultation explores how improving parenting assessment feedback can:
1) Enhance Family Engagement
2) Improve Family Retention
3) Improve Staff Comfort & Skill with Giving Feedback
4) Improve Staff Comfort and Skill in Receiving Feedback
5) Enhance Supervision
6) Promote Continuous Quality Improvement
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