Number six in our list of the best ever Trainers' Tips is Colin Boxer's fun exercise to show the impact of feedback, be it positive, negative or even silence.
Use one of those safe dart-boards (with velcro darts) and invite participants to provide: constructive encouragement, negative comments, and silence. It needs to be managed so that the negative doesn't become personal (this is also a good learning point) but it can be lively and most people thrive on the positive.
The use of silence is interesting because many think that feedback isn't needed - participants will often report that a bit of constructive feedback at the right moment helps performance, whereas silence can be as unhelpful as negative feedback. Exercises like this are useful because the follow-up discussions often reveal that we don't all want our feedback delivered in the same way - sometimes the positive encouragement can seem hollow. The secret is the right amaount, at the right time delivered in the right way (by the right person).
Incidentally, I found that one or two individuals did well with the negative feedback - they became determined to get it right to prove their detractors wrong. It is worth pointing out that this may seem like the right result but it has a high cost for relationships.