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Dan Erwin

Steve: Because a great deal of my history and work has been around coaching and feedback, I'm profoundly sensitized to these issues. I think that you have accurately nailed the issues of defining the coach's task and appropriately identified the "what to do" issues.

I certainly agree with your discussion of motives, however, I have a mixed response to "checking my motives" at the door. The upside is that as one client once said, "I have a big parent." An industrial psychologist, she used it positively, although I think it can also get in the way, creating dependency relations rather liberation.

But the more serious downside in my mind is the discussion of motives from the standpoint of "showing off," etc. I have gradually come to the conclusion that I will ignore that side of motives, and keep emphasizing the constructive side. In other words, rhetorically, I want to take the downside off the table. . . with the assumption that it will get in the way less and less. As a former university pastor, but with a Big Ten PhD in rhetoric, I'm very aware that we create our worlds. That background drives my caution. . . Although I have no data or study at hand, my education supports my caution at hand. What do you think about that differing perspective?

Chris Witt


I endured more encounter groups and the like during the sixties and early seventies than I care to remember. They were usually brutal -- "brutal honesty" was a highly touted virtue in those days -- and painful. Giving feedback was one of the main tools. And feedback always meant negative feedback. It was a way of pointing out something bad/deficient about the other person, something he or she obviously didn't already know.

As you might guess, I hate the word.

I believe in helping people understand how they and their actions are perceived. And I like your approach -- being a sounding board and a mirror. Since I work mostly with people who are giving speeches and who are therefore already feeling vulnerable and threatened, I have to work especially hard to be a kindly sounding board and mirror.


Steve Roesler


Help me out with the main theme leading up to the question; I don't thinking I'm following accurately.


Steve Roesler

Well, Chris, I confess to having flashacks full of T-group sessions that ended up somewhere between self-awareness and self-flagellation. It still pains me to use the term "feedback" but, given its popularity, some times ya just gotta smile when it surfaces.

Also: Unless one has worked in the presentation advisor role I'm not sure how many folks realize the sensitivities and vulnerability that "presentation"clients often feel--even though they don't say it outright. It's not easy having someone come in and "mess" with your big idea, the way you've been presenting yourself for a lifetime, and having other people know it. I have a lot of admiration for clients who say, "Look, I need help." When someone says that, they're probably going to do pretty well.

John Hunter

When managers aim to motivate people they are in danger of creating problems. They should see their job as helping eliminate de-motivation for employees. Most of our organizations have lots of ways to turn the innate desire to do good work off.


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