Compassionate and careful
feedback to individuals can lead to powerful personal and group
We use the word CareFrontation to describe the art of
delivering constructive, compassionate feedback to individuals
or to an entire group, to
expose ineffective behavior and to explore alternatives to that
behavior. CareFrontation consists of the truth, as we see it, in
the moment, where each participant retains the right to refuse
it. The feedback is packaged with caring and love and should be
delivered in a way that you would like to receive such feedback.
In short, we view CareFrontation as supremely empathetic
confrontation. Consequently, CareFrontation should be used only
within a group that has previously agreed to work their
individual and collective processes. In other words,
CareFrontation would be used primarily in a developmental
facilitation mode, and may be delivered by either the
facilitator to a participant, or among the participants
themselves. CareFrontation offers
group members opportunities to build more effective
relationships with one another and with life.
What CareFrontation is
CareFrontation is not harsh or unfeeling, as this creates a
climate that inhibits the desire to address change. CareFrontation
is not delivered to attack someone. The participant's
vulnerability should be considered at all times, so that when we
communicate feedback, it is delivered compassionately, with the
intention to support and uplift, and couched as simply our
perspective, versus an absolute fact.
do you CareFfront?
Offering useful feedback or CareFrontation almost requires a
sixth sense. It means watching body language, listening between
the lines, and intuitively knowing when to encourage a
participant to step "outside their box" and when to
back off. Feedback must be delivered in real-time, because if
behavior is left unaddressed too long, it is difficult to
recapture and recall accurately. You should CareFront
participants only when they are open and receptive to it. They
must retain the right to refuse feedback. So before you offer
feedback to a participant, ask them, "May I CareFront
you?" Or, "May I offer you some feedback?" If the
answer is "NO" then honor that response.
Effective behaviors also need to be reinforced. Bombardment with
honest feedback, whether it is perceived as corrective or
reinforcing, is important to building self-esteem. Some might
call this approach TOUGH LOVE. It is amazing how CareFrontation,
used consistently and appropriately, begins to foster the kind
of trust in an individual, which will encourage that individual
to seek out the CareFronter for more feedback on their behavior!
do you CAREfront?
When participants are open to receiving feedback, deliver it
in a neutral tone as your observation of behavior without
judgment. For example, suppose that in a teamwork exercise, a
participant has his arms folded and angrily detaches himself
from the group. The facilitator might ask, "May I share an
observation with you Fred?" If Fred agrees, the facilitator
would continue by saying something like, "I just saw you
step back from the group with your arms folded when the group
was struggling to solve a problem and needed the help of all
group members. What was happening for you at that point?"
Fred might come back with any number of responses but suppose he
said, "Nobody was listening to me!" The facilitator
might respond with, "Did your behavior get you what you
wanted?" Discussion would continue hopefully to the point
where the facilitator would encourage the participant to try a
new behavior the next time he is feeling unheard. Perhaps he
will agree to use an "I" statement to the group, such
as, "I'm really feeling unheard right now. Is anyone else
feeling this way?" Statements of truth like this can move a
dysfunctional team to a highly functional team over time if this
is in fact their goal.
assignment this week is to practice CareFronting someone about
something. This can be something that consistently bothers you
about someone you know, or something that just shows up on the
spur of the moment. You know the moment I'm talking about. It's
when you get that little signal inside that begs for action but
that you ignore because you want to be polite, politically
correct, safe, nice, etc. Iím interested in hearing what
happens for you. Please email
me and let me know what happened right away. I'd love to hear
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Thanks for your responses to the single key theme or issue you
see repeated in the groups you work with that most impedes the
group making progress. We've included Christiane
Boisjoly's response below. Thank you Christiane for your
The themes that I see repeated over and over in my experience
with groups are the following:
1. Lack of awareness. This one is big and key. Key because
without it change cannot happen. In this very simple yet highly
effective "theory" of change, there are five phases to
change (they happen in a sequential fashion, i.e. one cannot
happen if the previous one has not happened):
The group cannot take action towards any kind of change if,
before anything else, it is not aware of its own process.
The other recurrent themes could be classified as sub-themes of
awareness and they include:
2. Very poor listening skills
3. Lack of "community" or group spirit i.e. more focus
on individual interests than on community's interests
4. Not willing to take time; wanting to rush into the solution;
focused on the solution instead of on the process;
5. Lack of trust.
This week, we're asking you this: What topics that haven't
already been covered in the journal would you like to read about
in the future. Or what topics that we've already covered would
you like to see in more depth?
us your input and we'll do our best to respond to
Please email your responses to me at email@example.com.
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