Plus minus plus: These three words were explained to me when I was 19. They evoked memories of three different words from childhood: Care And Share. +-+ is the equation also known as Commend-Recommend-Commend. What does it mean? How does it translate to everyday life?
Commend someone with something that was done right. If we don’t know an aspect of our work was good, we might not know to do it again.
Recommend a change or point for improvement. Don’t say all aspects were bad. Especially don’t use nasty language no matter how we feel about the work. Avoid generalizations that leave people guessing about the solutions. Also don’t recommend everything at once. An evaluation shouldn’t leave us biting off more changes than we can chew. Give specific practical examples of a few recommended changes.
End with encouraging positivity. Some of my favourite evaluations simply recognised someone’s happy smile or willingness to try. Leave your evaluated person on a high note with anything that will encourage the person to try again later.
Have you ever had someone only tell you what’s wrong with what you are doing? Were you ever left wondering what your strengths are? I have definitely had someone focus on the flaws in my work instead of the strengths. Both of these are important, only one got of these got a mention from this mate.
I must admit this complaint here is my own personal flaw. Surely this negative mate has enthusiasm for what is being done. An individual will only put that much energy into criticizing you if that person cares. If you didn’t care about something, would you bother talking about it?
I am now learning to focus on the enthusiasm coming from anyone who gives me feedback. Yes, purely negative feedback leaves me feeling deflated and undervalued. But if that is the only thing I say to my evaluator, that person would wonder if he or she had done anything right as an evaluator.
A very wise soul sister suggested an idea to me today: listen. Listen to your critics. They will struggle to feel defensive if they are being heard. Make them at least think they are getting what they need. Then they will think about giving you what you need. Constructive encouraging evaluation is a two way street.
That idea reminded me of another acronym I grew up with WWJD. The main idea of it was love. Some people trust John Lennon. Others trust Jesus. Whoever you believe in, you would believe that all you need is love. It is so easy to love the people who butter us up with positive confidence. It’s too comfortable. Step out of your comfort zone. Happily listen with someone who speaks negatively towards you. Nobody said it will be easy. But you will be different.
Now it’s time for me to metaphorically practice what I preach. I need to have a taste of my own medicine. Loving your enemies is something I struggled with for my whole adult life. Perhaps I am now ready for a challenge.