How to Effectively Give and Receive Feedback, with Eric Brunner

We talk with National Cyclocross Champion Eric Brunner about how to best give and receive feedback—not only in sports, but all aspects of life.

Whether it’s a coaching client, a friend, or a family member, one of the most important things to learn is not just how to give effective feedback, but how to receive it. Nowhere is this truer than in a coach-athlete relationship. Feedback is at the core of an effective dynamic.  

An athlete can have all the talent, drive, and resources they need, but if their coach is unable to give them feedback in a way that they can use it—or if the athlete is unwilling to listen—nothing else matters.  

RELATED: Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen 

In this episode of Fast Talk, our hosts Dr. Griffin McMath and Coach Grant Holicky address this challenging skill with the help of someone who’s done a good job of receiving Grant’s feedback: multiple-time National Cyclocross Champion Eric Brunner.

Though unable to join the podcast interview, our hosts reference the work of feedback and communication experts Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, including their book, Thanks for the Feedback, to set the stage. They define what effective feedback actually is, the three types—coaching, evaluation, and appreciation—as well as the blind spots we all have when giving and receiving feedback, and the importance of knowing yourself.  

Of course, our hosts will also give lots of practical advice on how to give feedback and how to receive it. Brunner even admits that initially, he didn’t listen to most of what Grant had to say, and Grant reflects on communication lessons he’s learned over his many years of coaching. Together, they discuss how they learned over time to approach each other differently, communicate more effectively, and how over 7 years of refining this has led to the dynamic they have today. 

Joining Brunner on this episode, we’ll also hear from Professor of Sports Psychology, Dr. Brian Zuleger, and regular friend of the show, Coach Neal Henderson, owner of Apex Coaching.  

So, get ready to give us your feedback, and let’s make you fast!   

RELATED: Fast Talk Episode 274: The Personal Side of Coaching – with Grant Holicky