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The Power of Negative Evaluations

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

I got a bad review! Crap!

Negative evaluation of David Donaldson's CQ training course.

I was I thought. But no, their overall evaluation was quite negative.

I was ready to quit, ready to apply to Walmart and greet you with newly sanitized shopping cart upon entry.

But I gave them a second thought and had a revelation: positive evaluations are nearly useless. The first two training sessions with this agency went well and I received good evaluations. I smiled, filed the forms, stoked my ego but mostly forgot about them. Oh, sure, I made some thin notes of their observations for improvements. But the revelation was that the positive evaluations did little more than stroke my ego.

The latest evaluations forced me to truly consider what I presented and how I presented it. Perhaps most importantly, to make sure the purpose and vision for the training was. I thought it was obvious! So I didn’t expressly lay out the “big picture.”

I thought the participants would take the principles and apply them to their situation. Again, I thought it was obvious! So I didn't take the extra step to situate the points into their context. (After all, I thought, they know their specific context better than I do.)

The following thoughts are fresh and not very developed, but let me share them about negative evaluations:

1. Take them personally. Since I didn’t meet the goals of the participant, did I do something to “deserve” this? Yes. They thought my content didn’t apply to them, and so I have to ensure that what I present does apply. Let these comments motivate me; it is personal.

2. Take them at face value. I stopped "blaming" them for their attitudes, but let their words take root in me. They didn’t see the relevance of the material to them, then I didn’t make that point clear.

3. Didn't defend myself. I took responsibility for the evaluations, and called the director of the agency and discuss them.

4. Do something different. My next seminar is with a different group, in a different industry, with a different purpose. But I am embarking on a review of my material, and ensuring that it is clear, pointed, applicable, and carefully presented.

My ego wants to do well; to receive great evaluations so I have testimonials to post on my website, but …

Y’know what? That might not help. More constructively critical evaluations will propel me to greater excellence and force me to sharpen my skills.

Bring on the negative evaluations – I can (mostly) take them!

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