One of the most useful models to emerge from the world of Clean Language is Caitlin Walker’s Clean Feedback. When people use it, it changes relationships for the better, in a big way.
For example, my colleague Jackie Lawlor has been teaching the model to staff in doctors’ surgeries in the West Midlands. She tells me that one group have really taken it on board – and now their practice is topping the NHS league tables in terms of results.
It takes a little effort to learn, and to use, but it is worth it.The idea is to separate out
- what you saw or heard (evidence)
- the meaning you made up about that (inference)
- and the effect it had on you, or on the situation (impact).
For example, I could say, “I notice (from the website statistics) that you are reading this blog post. The meaning I make from that is that you are interested in feedback. The impact that has on me is that I want to write more blog posts about feedback.”
If I make a different meaning, it’ll have a different impact. “I notice you are reading this blog post. The meaning I make from that is that you are trying to figure out whether I’m an intelligent human being, and whether my courses are likely to be worth buying. The impact of that is that I become nervous and I want to fill my blog posts with academic references.”
It’s the meaning-making that makes the difference in this model. And it appears to be absent from another popular feedback model, Non-Violent Communication.
My colleague Olaf Lewitz says that when you add this to standard NVC, “it makes Non-Violent Communication non-violent”.
During our Clean Language For Agile Coaches workshop recently, students worked with us to compare and contrast these two models with two others, Crucial Conversations and ORID.
Here’s the comparison table we came up with:
|Clean Feedback||NVC||Crucial conversations||ORID|
What have we missed? What else should we consider? Please comment below.