Challenges in giving feedback

Challenges in giving feedback.

I am taking a Speaking Circles speaking class with Lee Glickstein in San Francisco.

Over the last ten years I have worked with him and his colleague, Doreen Hamilton, in part to improve my speaking skills but also to discover what it is I have to say about a topic.  The sessions are taped. I often transcribe them to see what I can learn about my speaking skills and the topics.

Over the last month, during two different Speaking Circle sessions, I addressed feedback. As part of the class process we are asked to give positive feedback on the other speakers’ comments. I have a block with this aspect of the class. I sense other dyslexics/hyperlexics might have a similar experience and thought my learning on this topic might be useful.

This blog is reporting almost verbatim my talk – a spontaneous narrative.


I want to talk about feedback. I have real terror giving feedback in this class.  I realized it tonight.   I am watching my whole body.  Oh god, will the words come up.  I don’t know what it is but words don’t want to come easily in feedback.  I have no problem talking but I sure do with this required feedback.

Years ago when I was married my husband was a stage designer. He would always say to me:  Come and take a look at what I have done and tell me what you think. My whole body would go into terror.  Oh my God, I can’t.  So, I would stumble through but I never felt good about what I was doing.

Years later I discovered that I am hyperlexic which means I don’t image well.  So, the cat has a pink tail that wiggles.  I often only see the words but I don’t always see images. Yes, I have been trained to image so I am better at this now but if I don’t have an image and I only see the words, then my left and right brain don’t work well together.   I have a sense this is what is going on here.  Physically my brain does something weird.  It doesn’t coordinate. It is very frustrating.  Honestly I don’t know what the answer is.

I was thinking about this during the break after the first session. I said to myself, if I had my magic markers I could tell you very fast what I felt. That is not a problem. This really points out the issue of words for me.  I have spent my life in the theater, opera primarily, not as a singer. I can see and have seen over the last ten years why opera, not theater has been my choice – because, theater is about words. I space out if I am not imaging as fast as the words are spoken.  Chooooo, I am gone.

I was at Yale at the Drama School.  They are very verbal people.  At that point I didn’t know what the condition was. Thankfully, they are also heartfelt people. I never felt uncomfortable but I felt bloody well frustrated because I couldn’t conjure up what I needed to say.

I don’t quite know how to solve this.


More insights on this topic on my next blog.