CRITICISM VS FEEDBACK - Con Koutsikas Public Speaking and Communication Trainer and Coach

In every aspect of our lives we will face criticism and or feedback.  What’s the difference you ask?  You can look up the dictionary meaning but my short version is as follows:

The only purpose of Criticism is to hurt, put down, belittle or deride whilst making the deliverer feel better about their short comings.  Feedback on the other hand, should be, and when delivered properly, is constructive.   So when it does come your way, how do you handle it and what do you do with it?  Let me tell you about my recent experience.

The other night I was at my local Toastmasters International club.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Toastmasters, It’s an international organisation which teaches public speaking skills.  If you fear speaking in public (and 73% of the population do) or you need to improve your skills, I strongly recommend it.  You’ll get an opportunity to speak at every meeting and be evaluated by another member.  The evaluation is the critical component because it identifies not only your strengths but the areas in which you need to improve.  I have been a member for many years and even as a professional speaker and trainer, I continue to attend for 2 main reasons.  The first is I want to continue to hone my skills and so I take every opportunity to speak and receive feedback.  The second, and most important is that it’s an opportunity for me to give back to the new or less experienced members.  When I started my journey, I would have never followed my path and gained the skills and the confidence without the support and guidance from experienced members so now, as one of those experienced members, it’s my time to nurture and guide others.

Anyway, going back to the other night, I gave a speech and was being evaluated by a very experienced Toastmaster.  Now this gentleman provides quality feedback but every now and then, I think in an effort to provide humour, he loses his way and the other night was no exception!   In the midst of his commentary he pops out with “and Con is 7 -8 kilo’s overweight”, WHAT????!!!!!.  As expected, he achieved his desired result as he got a few laughs at my expense but there were also some raised eyebrows.   More importantly, how did I deal with it?  I find this strategy extremely useful and if your ego is easily activated, as it used to be, I suggest you give this a try.

What was the intent?

Knowing him the way I do, I know his comment was not delivered with any malice and his sole intention was to get a laugh at my expense.  Of course the irony is that he is probably 15-20kg over weight!

How is this relevant?

Obviously NOT AT ALL.  Given I was there to continue to improve my speaking skills, my weight, right or wrong had nothing to do with the quality of my presentation or was in any way going to help me improve.

Given the answers above, I totally dismissed it in the context of my speech and moved on immediately, unlike my younger, less “emotionally self-aware” self, who would have confronted him seeking either an apology, retribution or both.  Next.

Is this relevant or useful in any other area of my life? 

Look, I know I am no fly weight and it would be good to drop 4 or 5kg’s but I’m in good health and it’s not a priority and anyway, given my love of chocolate and desserts in general, it would be very challenging so again, the comment was dismissed forever.  If however, it had of pushed my buttons and surfaced my want and need to lose weight, I could use it as fuel to motivate me.  The point is, at all stages, it was my choice how I dealt with the comments as it is yours!

I look forward to your thoughts and any feedback.

To your success

And until next time,

My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist

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