Christian Recovery Group Rule of Acknowledging Feedback

Man with head in Hand
When people speak from their heart, it is important they be recognized and validated. No one wants to tell something about themselves or share personal thoughts without getting a response. There are different kinds of feedback and many dimensions to each one. Of course, positive feedback is more likely to be answered and acknowledged. Group members seem to be more accepting of positive feedback than corrective or negative feedback.

Below are some dimensions of feedback:
  • The positive or negative nature of the message
  • Content: the actual words of the feedback
  • The relationship with the person giving the feedback
  • Source: is it the facilitator or a group member giving feedback?
  • Form of delivery: is it written or spoken, given sweetly or with malice?
  • Time reference: is it in the here and now or later?
  • Giving options instead of instructing, demanding or preaching

No matter the kind of feedback a group member receives, it is important that it be acknowledged before moving on in their processing. Giving a simple OK answer is not proper feedback. The person processing needs to give a response that has some meaning and shows the group member that they received the message. Some proper ways to acknowledge feedback would be to say something like, "I will give that some thought." Or, "Thank you for that information. I'll pray about it."

If feedback is not acknowledged, a person may feel rejected or embarrassed and may not open up again. It is up to the facilitator to identify opportunities for feedback and sometimes it requires them to interrupt the flow. In this case, the facilitator might say something like, did you hear what he/she just said to you. This should let the group member know they need to acknowledge the feedback.

Although positive feedback is more readily accepted than negative or corrective feedback, there are some ways to give corrective feedback that will help the process be better received. Corrective feedback is more readily received if it follows rather than precedes the exchange of positive feedback. It is always best to say something positive before delivering feedback that could be construed as negative.

But be careful not to let group members be correcting each other on a regular basis. It is not their job to do that. It is better if it comes from the facilitator and at a later time in the group process. Trust needs to be built first.

One of the main goals of feedback is to provide members with information to correct their misconceptions, wrong thinking, fears and past difficulties. Feedback is always given to help the group members, not to harm them. Proper feedback can help a member who appears to be stuck and feel they have no options. Acknowledging feedback helps group members feel they belong and that they have something of value to say.

Written by: Sherry Colby