Ever since childhood, our parents and school teachers were constantly correcting and directing us by teaching the difference between right and wrong, and how to behave appropriately. We have been shaped by feedback, as we were always submerged in a “feedback pool.”
Somehow we have tricked ourselves into believing that no news usually implies good news. “If I don’t receive any feedback, then that must mean that I’m doing a great job and nothing needs to be improved. Right?” Unfortunately, not always. Many people are reluctant to give feedback because they feel that they may come across as bossy, or start a conflict.
We never learned how to actively consult for feedback, so we are typically very passive when it comes to receiving it.
This is because we receive less feedback as we age. Our parents and teachers start to back off a bit. This could be because they become more conscious on the impression that they leave on us, or they believe that it’s time we shape ourselves as people. True as that may be, many people don’t have the ability to fully self-reflect and find what needs improvement. We need some sort of guidance from an outside perspective to point out the variables that we can’t notice ourselves.
People are reluctant to give feedback, and even more reluctant to receive it.
Not receiving feedback from others does not always mean that we are doing a good job. In fact, it can cause a rift in our performance because we have no direction in terms of the progress we have already made, and how to approach oncoming tasks.
The absence of feedback creates a bias
Self-reflection is a vital practice for improvement, but if you think you can quickly improve by relying solely on your own self-review, you are sorely mistaken. We develop a certain perspective when we perform, and we follow the path and practices that we think will bring us the most success.
If we only look at things from our own perspective, then all of our decisions are influenced by bias because we only consider one side of the coin. This practice of only accepting information that supports your perspective is called confirmation bias. The lack of feedback feeds into the idea that your way is the right way, because no one has ever challenged you or suggested any sort of improvement. That’s why relying only on self-reflection is not impossible, but takes a lot more effort and time.
So it’s very important to get feedback from an outsider perspective. You will be forced to consider variables that had never occurred to you, and in the end improve your performance.
Asking for feedback can be very intimidating. You’re essentially asking people to tell you what you’ve been doing wrong and point out your flaws. There are techniques to safely ask for feedback and appropriately digest the information, equipping you to use to it your advantage.
The way that you approach for feedback will influence the way that you receive it
Feedback will only be helpful if you choose to accept it positively, and use it as momentum to improve. Resist the natural reaction to take things personally, because this information is a chance to grow and learn. If you allow yourself to be offended, you will never accept the information on a factual level. In other words, buck up and take it.
It’s okay to feel bad because it’s not easy to hear that you’re anything less than perfect. Especially when it feels like an attack on your livelihood. But you can’t doubt yourself because of this, or try to explain away the criticism. Just assume that whoever is giving you this feedback wants to see you improve. And once you know what needs to change, all you need to do is get out there and do it.
The key is to pick the RIGHT person and frame your question accordingly
You want to choose someone that you trust and respect, and who really has a firm grasp on the topic at hand. They should have experience facing the obstacles that are coming your way, and will provide you with honest feedback and advice on how to overcome them.
How you approach receiving feedback is crucial as well. It is not enough to ask someone that you admire. They may not be properly trained on how to give feedback appropriately as teachers are. So you need to be prepared with questions to ask them so that you receive answers within your scope of expectation.
For example: If you want to improve your speech presentation, you need to ask questions directly related to that. Instead of asking what they think about a certain aspect as a whole, ask what specifically could be improved. The broad question of, “what do you think of my ____?” leaves room for personal judgment, and even more room to get offended. By carefully asking questions, you will be directing their focus towards a solution.
Create a positive Feedback Loop
Taking in feedback is never easy if you only see it as criticism instead of a chance to improve. Thinking of it as a fast track to achieve what you want will make you feel less offended and motivates you to ask for more feedback. Last of all, you must act on the feedback given and apply it! Like running up a staircase, each time you receive and apply feedback you’re creating a feedback loop that helps you make upward progress. Going up stairs step by step is much easier than having to suddenly climb up a wall. So have confidence and be proactive. With this perspective, you’ll find that getting the right feedback is like gold – it can save you hours of wasted effort and accelerate your progress by leaps and bounds.
Article by Brian Lee, Lifehack