the CET zone

So much is spoken about (and rightly so) coaching/feedback as an essential ingredient to making rapid progress, lifting morale and constantly enhancing potential(at work or play). However, the aspect of truly transferring the “chi” (so to say) to exactly deliver the learning/input to the recipient in a way that it is received happily and internalized, is no meaner an act than a tight rope walk over a chasm. We have several examples of great Masters of yore to the great Masters of Disney (like Shifu) who have mastered the art of coaching and given the right disciple, they could craft the greatest of warriors filled with pure awesomeness out of them!

In the typical modern day work life however, learning (needs to) happen(s) all the time and on the run(job). Although there are specific individuals (usually the specialists, SMEs, managers) that assume the role of the coach(es) time and again, usually the element of feedback/coaching happens in spurts from all directions and has the potential of transforming individuals/teams if done well, day by day. If only it was that simple! Let us look at some cases before proceeding further to examine the elements of feedback from a “receiver’s” perspective.

Case 1 (Trust): PO grew up with a burning desire to learn kungfu and trusted Shifu to be the greatest teacher in all of China. PO says to Shifu, “…if anyone could change me, could make me… not me, it was you! The greatest kung fu teacher in all of China!”

Case 2 (empathy): Although faced with a near impossible challenge, the team lagaan, gets together to follow one of their co-villager as their leader and trains hard to fight for their destiny. Bhuvan (the village team’s captain) gets them to empathize with the common goal and empathizes with each one of them in leveraging their individual strengths to make a strong team.

Case 3 (Connect): Aliens from the Moron mountain invade the Looney Tunes and get into a basket ball challenge in order to conquer them. No matter how much Michael (Jordan who plays for the Loonies on request from bugs bunny) convinces his team at break time (when they get hammered by the giant aliens in the first quarter), they just couldn’t get to trust him. “Michael doesn’t understand us, we can’t beat these aliens”, they think. It takes bugs bunny’s clever trick to make Jordan’s special drink that could connect with the team and give them the much needed magical boost to fight back.

(Movies offer serious inspiration!)

CET principle

CET – Effective Feedback

Although I picked up some extreme examples to make the point in a lighter vein, the elements of Connect, Trust and Empathy are so important to truly share consumable feedback that can elevate performance. Of course receiver’s like PO that are driven by fiery desire to learn and open to tolerate even harsh training are rare to find, for the rest of us, it helps to make constant & persistent (gentle) nudges to connect, relate with empathy and earn trust with all earnestness in order to make the feedback effective.

As depicted in the picture, having all the three ingredients is fantastic (connect with the person/team to understand their background/situation, empathy while sharing the feedback (and also making the receiver empathize with the purpose of the feedback) and most importantly the element of trust (on the credentials of the person sharing feedback as well as that there is a perception of genuine intent to improve the receiver). Having one or two of the three may not yield the full impact (while of course some message will always get through).

There are multiple examples of great leaders like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam or F.C. Kohli who were stern task masters but also truly connected with their team, earned their respect time & again with multiple acts of kindness and helped them realize their potential.

While trust usually tends to be a long term affair, the other two elements can be practiced constantly by – turning up regularly (towards opportunities, helping a colleague, asking questions, small acts of kindness, appreciation, being more visible, making oneself heard and so on) and empathizing with the context/team/individual. As I indicated in my previous posts, some of the techniques that (the principles of) Agile propose(s) are just to provide the opportunities of exposure so that the teams can get together often and practice CET. And the mark of a high performing team is where feedback flows seamlessly like an unconstrained stream working magic along the way.

Categories: Abstract Posts, Experiential

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20 replies

  1. One more fantastic write up. Good articulation showing the importance of key attributes Trust Empathy and Connect!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome write up Phani !!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rightly said.. Of all the elements, Trust plays a leading role in any relationship… genuine feedback does influence subconscious belief system.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very true, the inherent trust of the receiver and the ability to empathise with the receiver amalgamating with the Connect !
    Really liked the examples which convey the relevance of CET so aptly. Hope to see this coming /(exercise this) in to practise both at work and in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Agree. I think based on the context and changing dynamics in relation between two people the perception of feedback changes.

    Awesome writeup Phani!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another excellent work….full of inspiration

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another fantastic write up and explains importance of trust factors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good one, Phani.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yet another good write – Phani .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Young Moon, thank you for your blog post.Really thank you! Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A great perspective from the receiver end, and how these parameters are important to sink in the feedback you get… Trust being the most imp but time taking one….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Young Moon, thanks so much for the post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Does CET stand for Connect, Empathy, Trust? If it is, very well connected between the three…I was a little confused with the title 🙂
    One saying from the famous hotelier Vithal Kamath is ‘ Feedback is the breakfast of the champions’ amplifies the importance of taking feedback!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good one Phani. Can connect with the thought process from experience. Finding the right balance is an art in itself and hopefully one day you get the right balance and learn to impart the same to others.


  15. I wonder how can someone have such vibrant imagination and creative portrayal of words.
    Everytime i try to hold back my inner demon, i read the post and i get inspired to have faith on the good things. CET was an exam I qualified long back. Never thought, could be so meaningful. Now, i will actually try to accomplish it.
    Thank you for sharing🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Giving and Receiving “Feedback” is easy but to create an improvement through it is tough. Thanks for sharing the ingredients that make this possible.. to a great extent. In my list, I would add one more.. Alignment.. on objectives. Having the same understanding on the outcome we want to create. In your example, if anyone in Bhuvan’s team would have treated the game just as a cricket match and failed to understand what it means for the village if they lost it then they would never have understood why Bhuvan & others are so personally invested into it.


    • Thank you Vijender for taking the time and sharing your inputs.

      Alignment in a way can be seen as having a common “trust” – or belief that there is something common worthy of trust. We trust each other (as a team) or I trust the leader (on the path that he is taking me on – which is alignment towards a direction). So CET can be observed at an individual level (making it one to one) and also at a team level where the whole unit moves as one towards achieving something worthwhile. Also purpose/alignment to purpose or a worthy cause is a huge aspect of building trust.


  17. CET (Connect Empathy & Trust)… By the title I thought it is some other CET Zone.
    This article also is CET i.e. Creative Excellent & Terrific one!


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