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Feedback for Impact - Innovageous Strategies for Positive & Productive Communication

At Innovageous, we take pride in how we communicate with the important educators and leaders with whom we partner. In our daily work, we are meeting with leaders as thought partners, conducting landscape analyses of programs and systems, and providing professional learning and coaching. Within each space, we focus on intentional, targeted and clear communication when it comes to the feedback we provide. Whether it’s facilitating strategic planning sessions around key organizational goals, sharing results of a school audit focused on areas of growth, or a coaching session with an educator to improve their practice, our team has worked to foster our communication skills to ensure our feedback is heard and considered vital to the success of our projects.

Through our work, there have been some important lessons learned about how we communicate with educators and partners in this collaborative space. Virtual meetings quickly taught us to watch our expressions and how that can communicate a message we didn't intend. Believe it or not, we spent time on Zoom practicing our facial expressions that communicate our intention and care! We’ve also continued to develop our empathetic listening skills, ensuring we have a clear understanding of what our partners are thinking and feeling. You can even find a toolkit we created around how to be a more empathetic listener on our website. Lastly, we leaned into strength-based feedback. It’s not a myth that you attract more bees with honey, or build a growth mindset by starting with the glass half full instead of empty.

To focus your attention on positive and productive communication, we suggest you practice! Not just practice how you look on Zoom, or set up a code word with your peers to remind you to change your expression, but really practice by role playing and preparing to build confidence and lessen the emotional response that comes along with challenging conversations. Below are some suggestions for building your capacity and confidence in providing strengths-based feedback:

  • Make it part of your routine to get to know an individual's strengths. Through warm ups, quick conversations, and ‘getting to know you’ activities, you can make space for others to share their strengths and characteristics they take pride in.

  • Acknowledge that mistakes and challenges are part of growth. How we use what we have learned is the most important aspect of these challenges.

  • Ensure your communication emphasizes individual strengths and contributions. Be genuine in your feedback and share the impact of suggested shifts so that it empowers others to want to grow.

  • Avoid judgemental language that can derail your feedback by having a negative impact on other’s thoughts and feelings. Ask questions from a place of curiosity, not judgment.

  • Prepare and practice with sentence and question stems that promote strengths-based feedback, like the ones on this Innovageous bookmark resource.

When we lean into intentional communication to empower a growth mindset and foster change, we embrace the strengths of our partners as we see them make their best effort to support their school community. This opens the door for clear communication, strong collaboration, and positive outcomes for educators and their students. That’s the goal of our work through Innovageous. Reach out to us at if you need coaching or support around strategies for productive conversations and strengths-based feedback. We are here to help!


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