There’s no doubt about it; one of the best ways to get better at something is to simply ask for feedback.  How do we get better without feedback from others?  Feedback provides invaluable information we can’t see for ourselves.  Feedback helps us evolve.  Feedback nourishes our imagination.

There, I said it.  Tell all your friends that feedback is good.  We can all go home now.  Nothing to see here… or is there?

I remember years ago, my brother Jeff came to me with great excitement about a car purchase.  He told me all about this car that he was so thrilled with. Having spent some time consulting for the car industry, I had a few opinions about that car myself, but before I offered my opinion, I asked him one, simple question:  “Have you purchased it yet?”  With a big smile, he told me, “I sure have!  What do you think of it?”  With a matching big smile, I told him, “I love that car!”

I’m guessing that some of you aren’t impressed with my response, but take a moment and think about it: What would have been the value in telling him, “Oh, I’ve heard about those cars; they aren’t dependable, and they lose value quicker than most cars, and I’d never buy that car… but congratulations!”

I watch this play out with my wife from time-to-time. She is an artist, and when she’s creating a piece she genuinely wants feedback about, she’ll ask for it. She really wants a different perspective and another set of eyes on her pieces, so she’ll hold it up in front of a mirror so she can see her work from a different viewpoint.  However, once that piece has been completed, framed, and hung for others to see it, she’s not really looking for another critique.

I know we don’t mean to harm others with our feedback, but we often do.  I suppose the problem is created by a modest question we ask when we have completed our work.  That question is this: “What do you think?”  For those who are asking that question, the question we mean to be asking is, “What do you like about this work I’ve completed?” Unfortunately, that question is a little too awkward to ask, so we inadvertently open ourselves up to a question with far more damaging consequences.

I’m certainly not immune to this feedback syndrome.  Many times, after I’ve spent hours preparing for, and given every ounce of energy I have for a presentation, I’ve stepped off the stage soaked in sweat and been greeted by a goodhearted colleague with, “Nice job! If only you hadn’t mishandled that one question you got near the end.”  Funny, this type of feedback rarely comes from an audience member, and almost always from a well-meaning coworker.

It’s an awkward moment when others are offering feedback, and you really want to say: “Gee, not that kind of feedback, please!”  Who gets better at what he or she does without honest feedback that balances the positives and the negatives? It’s important to remember, though, that not everyone actually wants your feedback.  Before you take the bait from someone who appears to want your feedback, consider these two questions:

  1. When is this question being asked? If a person has already bought their car, or an artist has already created that work of art, or a speaker who has already stepped off that stage, why would you want to greet them with negative feedback to a situation that cannot be changed?
  2. What is your relationship to the person you are giving feedback to? I’ve had people who have never written a book or an article, come up to me at book signings and offer their criticism and even alert me to a typo buried deep in the manuscript.  For the record, despite edits and re-edits, legal reads, and copy writer reads, almost no book is free from a typo or two.  The book is in print – do you really think that’s what an author wants to hear while signing your book?  Not this one!

Again, this really isn’t solely the fault of those who are offering feedback. Consider your timing, and your relationship. Sometimes when we ask for feedback, we are actually asking for something far different.  We want your appreciation.  We want your praise.  We want your approval.  Let’s let those who ask, “What did you think?” bask in the glory of their moment while experiencing the compassion of others. If your negative feedback is really that vital to their long-term success, take a deep breath, and wait for another time to deliver it.


Want to listen to this BLArticle® read by the author?  Tune in to “Pocket Sized Pep Talks” and you’ll hear a collection of BLArticles® and interviews updated often!





We just finished posting final video in a series on delivering amazing online presentations with my friend, Jeremy Webb. We go over some great stuff including:

  • How to Select the Best Equipment for Online Presentations
  • Pro Tips for Sustaining Interest in Online Presentations
  • How to Look Like a Pro!
  • Public Speaking Anxiety Tip
  • Virtual Office Setup for Online Presentations

You’ll find the whole playlist here:

I completed an interview with one of the best interviewers in the business, Jay Izso, on his show, “A New Direction.”  We sat down for a little over an hour and went at it!  If you’re presenting online, you’ll want to hear this interview. Normally, I sit down for a few minutes… but not with Jay. We go over a LOT of helpful hints here!  Here is the direct link to that interview:

I joined @Dan Englander on The Digital Agency Growth Podcast where we talked about transitioning from in-person to teleconference sales. Some topics we covered:

  • Why sales is a transferable skill but marketing is domain-centric.
  • The important consistencies and differences in teleconference sales.
  • Why objections are good.
  • Why product knowledge is overrated. (Don’t shoot the messenger!)
  • My Three P’s of sales performance.

I’ve appeared on the “Small Business Advocate Show” with Jim Blasingame for almost 20 years now, and you’ll find dozens of our conversations on his website.  We just sat down a few weeks ago for a great conversation on setting up your home virtual studio, and staying productive during the current crisis.  Here’s a link to over 100 interviews done over the years, including my most recent that explores the myths and techniques involved in closing.

I was recently interviewed on the “Salesman Podcast,” which was a lot of fun. If you’re looking to Change Minds, check out this podcast:

I loved talking about the book, Why People Don’t Believe You on a podcast that I’m sure you’ll like called Onward Nation

After 30+ years as a professional speaker and trainer, one of the most common questions I get is this: “How do we make sure the training sticks?”  Take a moment and listen to this podcast; “SalesChats” with John Golden.  If you want to know why most training fails, listen up!

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