A friend of mine at work gave me this approach to feedback called Blossoming from a book by Bruce Wilkinson. She told me great things about using it with her children. When I can remember, I try to use it with mine — and I think it can be used with others — colleagues, friends, teammates.
Here are the steps for this strange usage of the verb blossom, that is, taking action to help someone else blossom.
Examine the person you want to blossom. You have to pay attention to see situations where you can share your positive expectations.
Expose what the person did by describing it to him/her. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that they are doing something praiseworthy. This makes it clear in their minds and shows them that it is clear in your mind.
Then pause to let it sink in.
Describe your own emotion about what the person did. “That makes me feel proud…” “That makes me feel confident …” “That makes me feel excited …” Then pause again.
Tell the person what you expect in the future. You are taking the event that happened in the past and making a picture from it of what can be in the future. Wilkinson lists 6 characteristics of effective expectations:
- Shows belief in person’s potential
- Future perspective — becoming, growing, starting to, developing
- Tailored to their aspirations — connected to their dreams of the future
- Inspiring, not confining terms. Not “You’ll get straight A’s from now on” (a prison), but “I see you working hard to really master new information.”
- Possible — you can push on someone’s boundaries, but not go into the realm of unimaginable.Then pause again.
Endear in an appropriate way – with a smile, eye contact, a bow, or, if appropriate, a touch
Bruce Wilkinson has some good examples of how to do each step in chapter 4: Expectations: Method and Maximizers. This is just a quick summary.