Entwining Experiences: Feedback Is a Gift

Charles FeathererEgg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Charles Featherer
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

This is not the final entry on entwining experiences; I’m sure I’ll write others in time. But this is the last in the planned series. I’ve saved the best — and what I consider the most important — for last.

One of the most important words in Judging is “Feedback.” Feedback is a critical component of the Judge program. Without it, we would be slow to change and adapt both ourselves and the experiences we offer players. It’s the foundation upon which the Exemplar Program is built.

Today I want to borrow from what I feel to be the most important message of the Wood Badge program. Wood Badge, as I’ve explained previously, is a course taught to adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America and borrows liberally from the corporate world. I’m not sure where the concept I want to share started in its exact form; then again, I don’t feel that is important. What is important is that everyone reading this stop what they’re doing and start to incorporate this concept in everything they do:

Feedback is a Gift

Think about that for a minute. Intellectually, we know how important feedback is to the Judge Program. But to think of it in terms of a gift is a way to really get across to everyone how valuable and valued it should be.

To the recipient, the concept that “Feedback is a Gift” is not necessarily new. Those of us who receive feedback — whether positive, neutral, negative, or anything in between — should hopefully be mature enough to recognize it for the opportunity it gives us. We can find a way to improve. Even after receiving positive feedback, that doesn’t mean we cannot improve further; for example, sometimes that feedback helps us extrapolate a better way to perform a task. Feedback truly is a present for those who receive it and can welcome it.

When we talk about feedback being a gift, it is important that we also frame this concept on the part of the person or persons giving feedback. Picture the following:

Tim, a young Judge working a large PPTQ for the first time, makes a bad ruling on a simple call about a missed trigger. Tim’s ruling is appealed. The Head Judge makes the necessary change to the ruling. At the end of the day, the Head Judge pulls aside Tim and talks about the call with him.

What, in your experience, is the tone that the Head Judge should take with Tim? What happens if he’s either dismissive or belligerent of Tim’s error? Would it be better to frame the discussion in terms of a conversation or a dressing down?

The way we give feedback matters. I think that idea is so important, I’m going to write it again. The way we give feedback matters.

If the giver of feedback treats the feedback as a gift, then the recipient is more likely to accept it. No one wants to listen to someone who would frame an interaction so negatively that it leaves a bad taste in our mouth. In a case where we start off with voices raised and our hackles up, it’s no longer a situation where it can even be called feedback. That’s now an argument or a fight, depending on your point of view.

Remember this. As you write reviews (and you should) about interactions with other Judges, as you work with them at events, and as you spend time with them, even outside of this world we call Magic…feedback is a gift. It is precious, it has value to the giver and receiver, and above all it can bring joy to our lives.

[Thanks for joining Charles and me throughout this series! We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and the concepts within them. Please share your thoughts in the comments, or reach out to me on social media. As Charles said, feedback is a gift: please share yours! — Bearz]