628. Kristin Bowen | The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback: A Guide for Coaches and Leaders

Jul 19, 2023


The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback: A Guide for Coaches and Leaders


In the world of coaching and leadership, feedback is a powerful tool that drives personal and professional growth. Providing constructive feedback is an art that can make a significant impact on individuals' development. In this comprehensive guide, we draw insights from the experiences of seasoned coach and Flowmaster, Kristen Bowen, to explore the transformative journey of giving and receiving feedback.

Getting Started in the World of Coaching

Kristen Bowen, affectionately known as "Cabo," boasts an illustrious career in coaching and seminar staff for over two decades. Her expertise and passion for CrossFit and coaching have led her to conduct more than 300 seminars globally.

The Journey of Improvement: From Technical to Soft Skills

Kristen's coaching journey began with technical feedback and evolved to encompass valuable insights into soft skills such as attitude, presence, and communication. This progression demanded a delicate approach, but Kristen embraced the discomfort of candid feedback to facilitate profound growth in individuals.

The Power of Constructive Feedback

Feedback is not about sparing someone's feelings; it is about clear communication and helping individuals reach their potential. Kristen's philosophy, inspired by Brene Brown, emphasizes that being clear, even if it means discomfort, is vital for personal and professional growth.

Navigating Challenges: The Art of Giving Feedback

As a Flowmaster, Kristen reviews after-action reports from seminars, honing her feedback skills. However, providing feedback has its challenges, requiring her to overcome personal discomfort to deliver meaningful insights.

Embracing Radical Transparency

Moving from avoiding feedback to embracing radical transparency can be daunting for organizations. Kristen draws inspiration from Ray Dalio's principles, emphasizing that fluff and feelings have no place when the ultimate goal is to improve outcomes.

The Impact of Candid Feedback

Kristen has earned a reputation for her ability to deliver candid and constructive feedback effectively. Her honest approach, though challenging, has led to tangible growth and development among participants and coaches alike.

Giving Feedback: The Key to Growth and Improvement

Feedback plays a vital role in personal and organizational growth in any professional setting. Understanding its purpose as a tool for improvement is essential to embrace feedback with a positive mindset.

The Disconnect with Feedback

People often struggle to accept feedback, perceiving it as a personal attack. However, feedback should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and enhancement.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Two main types of feedback to consider are directive and stylistic feedback. The former provides specific instructions, while the latter allows room for individual interpretation.

Challenges in Giving Feedback

Providing feedback comes with challenges, including finding the right balance between directive and stylistic feedback, overcoming discomfort, making feedback actionable, and assuming positive intent.

Strategies for Effective Feedback

To ensure feedback fosters growth, consider starting with directive feedback, recognizing effort, being specific and actionable, assuming positive intent, adapting feedback to experience levels, and promoting a culture of two-way communication.

Providing and Receiving Feedback: A Key to Coaching Success

In coaching, feedback is pivotal for identifying improvement areas and creating better experiences for athletes.

The Power of Positive Intent

Assuming positive intent when giving feedback helps create a supportive environment for coaches' growth.

Meaningful Feedback with Purpose

Feedback must have a purpose, focused on improving recipients' skills and outcomes.

Feedback for Recipients, Not Coaches

Shift the focus of feedback from the coach to the athletes, fostering a collaborative and solution-oriented environment.

Avoiding the "You" Language

Use "we" or "I" statements to avoid sounding accusatory and promote a more collaborative atmosphere.

Empowering Coaches through Self-Evaluation

Encourage coaches to self-evaluate regularly, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

Overcoming Gender Stereotypes in Feedback

Foster an environment where all coaches' feedback is valued and respected, regardless of gender.

Cultivating a Culture of Feedback

Lead by example as gym owners and leaders, demonstrating that feedback is integral to growth and improvement.


Feedback is a powerful force that drives growth and development in coaching and leadership. Embracing the art of giving and receiving feedback with courage and empathy paves the way for individuals and organizations to reach their full potential. By creating an environment of radical transparency and continuous improvement, coaches and leaders can foster an inclusive and supportive community, where feedback becomes the cornerstone of success.


Jason Ackerman, CF-L4, and Jason Fernandez, CF-L3, are Affiliate Owners and CrossFit Seminar Staff Members dedicated to the pursuit of helping Affiliate Owners and Coaches alike become the best in the world at what they do.


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