If you are a corporate employee, notice the feeling you are having when you read the word “Feedback”. “I have some feedback for you” often creates the same or worse visceral reaction as “we have a problem”!
A quick web search brought this definition of feedback: Comments in the form of opinions and reactions to something, intended to provide useful information for future decisions and development.
Based on my experience, the more common connotation of feedback is: It is unpleasant, negative and often brings a defensive behavior.
Now that I am not part of the corporate system and I don’t have the luxury of getting the unsolicited feedback regularly, I thought I wouldn’t care about it. But surprisingly enough I now do care much more. This morning when I was asking for some feedback from a recent workshop participant, I realized, nowadays I invite feedback rather than avoiding it.
So what is the reason for such a shift? There are the few points came into my mind:
1. It is SOLICITED by ME
I am the one initiating the feedback conversation. As part of my bigger intention of making my workshop more effective I came up with the idea of collecting feedback.
2. It is DESIGNED by ME
I consciously ask the feedback invoking questions based on what data I want to gather.Example: What they liked most? What could be done differently or made even more effective? I am conscious about what I want from this. If someone gives feedback about the room/timing I convey that to the organizers instead of defending it.
3. The SOONER the BETTER it is
I take every opportunity to collect the feedback sooner so the context is still fresh.
4. I Learn from my INNER CRITIC
My inner critic often is quick enough to tell me when I don’t do very well. I am not too surprised about any possible negative feedback and I proactively ask for it. That way I am not solely dependent on my inner critic who can be real tough sometimes:).
Managing My Ego
Asking someone for a feedback essentially means making myself vulnerable. It feels personal when I hear less than a cheer kind of feedback. It is never easy; keeping an eye on the bigger purpose helps to overcome that. Having a caring friend or a spouse always helps to heal the initial cuts and bruises (if any:)).
Feedback is supposed to help us to be better at what we really want to do/achieve. It is merely a helping mechanism and can never replace our main driving force or the intention. The most common pitfall I see is: We start with the performance review feedback and make it the center of our focus – rather than helping, it often brings more disappointments in the end!
This article was also published in the Personal Branding blog.