The problem comes when non-specific feedback is given in response to a situation. For example if someone told you that you weren't making an effort in your work today, you would rightly be annoyed and become defensive in the process. However if they were to point out that you seem distracted today, the element of aggression in the previous statement has been removed. This would be far more likely to lead into a conversation that might resolve the issue that had been spotted.
This is where coaching can be very fruitful. People who are not experienced in coaching might come up to you in the above example and say something like ‘What's wrong with you?' You would be forgiven for feeling defensive in that situation. But an experienced coach will know how to use developmental and specific feedback to help you understand how to change and move ahead from the situation you are in. Encouraging feedback is good too in situations where things are going well.
As you can see, specific feedback can be of huge assistance in the coaching process when it is used in a positive way. It can also be very useful in narrowing down areas where issues occur and need to be resolved. In these cases developmental feedback is essential because it will highlight specific areas that are worthy of improvement. It will also make the coaching process much more productive - both in the short and the long term.
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