The best feedback might be Greek to you and me
(Note: I originally posted this in late 2011-the subject covered is even more relevant today)
I suspect that this title made your mind wonder just what Dan has in mind today. I cannot disagree that this particular post is a slight stretch, but if you hang in there I hope you will find the Greek references to be appropriate for the subject matter. Without a doubt the giving and receiving of feedback in the workplace is a critical issue and most of the people I have worked with have not given the best feedback when called upon to do so.
Too often people make the off handed reference “It’s all Greek to me” and it is my hope that this post will show that a little Greek can go a long way toward providing the best feedback in any workplace. Let’s speak a little Greek to get things started.
There are four words for love in the Greek language. Storge means “affection” and it is typically used with references to family members. It can also be used when referring to “putting up with others.”
Philia means more of a friendship or affectionate love and it is closer to a loyalty which requires virtue and equality. The word Philos is a derivative of this form of love.
Eros is more of a passionate or sensual desire or longing. You might notice that Eros is the root of the word erotic, a word used typically to describe sexual or physical types of lust/love.
Agape it is a deeper affection and it can also be a type of “sacrificial love.” This type of love is often used to describe how Christians feel that God loves them, but it can also be used in more secular situations much like what I will talk about now.
Feedback involves telling others things they need to hear or learn that will make them more effective in life, but in this case I will talk more about the workplace. Too often we find that co-workers and managers will “sugarcoat” feedback and not give those receiving the message the true, deep seated message they often need to hear. Many times we are afraid that true feedback will damage the relationship and that others will not like us if we completely level with them.
I believe that the best feedback should utilized the principles of Philos or Agape when considering how the Greeks use these two words. Love is not just about affection or feeling, but the best and most meaningful kinds of love can be sacrificial just as Agape love can be. We may need to tell someone something that they may not appreciate initially, and quite frankly, they may reject it and believe that we are just out to get them.
Agape is so unusual in today’s world because we are not accustomed to sacrificing for others because we live in the day of WIFM (what’s in it for me) and if we tell someone the truth they may not ever speak to us again.
I believe that Agape Feedback is the best feedback and our honesty, even if it is construed to be brutal or strong, can be the difference between suggestion and intervention. Our world is so hung up on just getting along that we all could use a little Agape feedback to get back on track.
Think about it-what Agape feedback have you given to someone in the last few weeks or months?
What Agape feedback has someone given to you?
Who do you know that would benefit from sacrificial honesty from you?
Go out and “love” someone you work with today by giving them some agape feedback. They may not thank you today, but I trust they will thank you someday.