Yada Coach Christine Davis shares tips for providing encouraging feedback.

I have observed that learning to give good feedback is a challenge for some Yada participants. It was rather stressful for me, as I feared I wasn’t doing it right. I found myself spending a lot of the time the person was sharing trying to figure out what my feedback was going to be. As a result, I wasn’t truly giving them the gift of my undivided attention.

Finally, I came to understand that I needed to step out in faith and simply listen. I still took notes but not because I intended to read them back, but rather just to help me retain what I was hearing. For some people, this style is not helpful.

My husband, for example, gets totally distracted by note taking and can understand and process better if he simply listens. The point is that the time to decide what you’re going to say in feedback is after the person is finished sharing. It’s OK to take a little time to think about it, but I find that I will usually have an overall impression of what I have heard, which is what I usually say first. Whatever I say, my tone needs to be encouraging and full of love.

For me, it helps to know why I am giving feedback. Here are my motivations:

1. To encourage my sisters to know God better.

2. To let them know I have listened to every word they said, and by knowing that, they will also know that God has heard every word.

3. To know that I care about whatever they’re going through, and therefore, they’re reminded that God cares as well.

4. To help my sister notice patterns and threads in her journaling, which point to ways God seems to be speaking to her.

5. To ask questions that might help my sister clarify what God seems to be saying to her.

6. To show unconditional love and acceptance to my sister.

I try to respond with this in mind: “what would God say to this sister in response to what she shared?”

God is always loving, always encouraging, and deeply desires to spend time with us. So, before even knowing what the person is going to say, I know I can encourage them just for journaling and seeking to know God. Anything they say that demonstrated their desire to know Him and love Him is worthy of encouragement.