Feedback is a part of life. Feedback tells us how well we are doing in any particular area of life. It can be a catalyst for growth if we allow it to be. The question becomes what to do with feedback, even if you don’t want it.
What is feedback?
Feedback is an evaluation of our performance on any task or activity. It is what we get back after we have said or done something. Whether the feedback makes us feel good or not, it is best to take the time to respond appropriately. We do not always get feedback when we do something but when we do, we should value it.
Why should we value feedback?
Feedback has a way of making us aware of what most people already know about us. Les Brown said, “It is difficult to see the picture when you are in the frame.”
Feedback helps us to see the things that we are often blind to in ourselves. Though some feedback interactions can be painful we should be glad to know so that behavior can be addressed and the problem resolved.
What to do when you first hear it
Don’t respond if you are angry or upset. This may be easier said then done depending on your personality. The rational, thoughtful part of our brains does not function well when angry or upset. After you leave the interaction, give yourself time to calm down if you are angry or upset.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself AFTER you have regained your composure. Do your best to determine the answer to the following questions:
1. Was any part of what they said about me true? Just because there were some things that were not true doesn’t mean that everything was false. Be careful about blowing off everything that a person says regarding your faults. The majority of the time there is some level of truth in the feedback.
2. Have I seen this behavior in myself before? If you haven’t, has anyone else ever said the same thing about you? If the answer is yes, then to disregard this feedback might be a mistake. If one person says you are a duck, they are crazy. If two people say you are a duck, it is a conspiracy. But if three say you are a duck, then go get in the pond! While you may not agree with their perceptions, multiple peoples’ perceptions could point to an area of needed change in your behavior. If someone says, “You are uncaring” you may actually care but you are coming across as uncaring. Be sure that your outward expressions accurately reflect the inward messages you want to convey.
3. What do I need to do to address this behavior? If you know the answer, then make an effort to do it. If you have the courage to do so, go back to the person that brought the complaint initially. Say something like,
“Hey Paul, you know the other day when you talked to me about _________? I want you to know that I have been thinking about that and I am really sorry. Could you tell me what I could do differently to make sure this does not happen in the future? I would appreciate hearing your input.”
Then, stop talking and listen. Give the person the chance to share. Their feedback will be invaluable to you. Listen to every part of the conversation. Don’t just hear what they say but hear their heart while they are saying it. Thank them for what they have shared even if it was painful. You will be amazed to find that most people have never had someone ask them anything like this before.
Our openness to feedback is a critical part of life and well being. Be bold enough to listen to feedback and respond to what you have heard. Your life and relationships will be better for it.
No one is beyond working on something and that is especially true of the one writing this blog post.
How has feedback helped you? I would love to hear your story.