improvement

365 Challenge: Day 170 – Feedback

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Feedback: information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement

feedback

Feedback is often hard to accept, especially when someone suggests that you change something you are doing. Not many people are open-minded enough to truly look at the advice in a way that removes their personal feelings or emotions. It’s a process and learned skill that takes many years to fine-tune in order to make the best of the situation.

When I was younger, I had a hard time accepting any sort of feedback — either good or bad. I had a habit of immediately feeling threatened, which often resulted in my opinion of the person who had been sharing his/her thoughts suddenly being knocked down a few pegs. I often thought I was always right and that other people didn’t understand me. It’s a common reaction to hearing any sort of potential negative response, even if it’s presented as constructive criticism. This carried over into my first few years as a manager of employees. When it came to review time, I tended to mark someone higher than they were in fear I’d hurt their feelings. After the second round of performance appraisals, it suddenly dawned on me: if you don’t tell the person what’s wrong, it will not get any better. And if it doesn’t get any better, then it will become an even larger problem that you try to cover up because you missed it the first time. Wrong Reaction!

Feedback is important, whether it’s positive or negative. There are tons of studies on the right way to present it, as well as the wrong way. Since I’m not going to include intelligent reports here, because I’m lazy, this is really only my opinion. But I’m certain it’s right. {Aside: Shh… I told you earlier, I no longer think I’m always right. I now know it! OK… just kidding, in case you’re new to my blog and don’t yet fully understand my brand of humor…} I try to balance the positive and the negative feedback when I critique other people’s efforts or share an opinion on what they have chosen to do. I do it for a few reasons, but mostly it’s because that’s how I like to receive feedback.

No one is perfect. Everything can always be a little bit better. Doesn’t mean it should be. But there’s room for improvement and it often takes another set of eyes to shed light on it. No matter how many times I taste a meal that I’ve made over and over again, there is something I can do to make it even better. As much as I re-work a paragraph in my novel to the point I feel like it’s brilliant, there is another way of saying the same thing that is just a little bit better than my draft. These are good things. Not bad things. Life is not about achieving perfection. It’s also not about achieving “good enough,” in case that’s where you thought I might be going. It’s about finding the middle ground where you, as the creator or the person doing the task, can feel pride and joy over your accomplishments.

As I matured and researched the ways to give and receive feedback, I found my own happy medium for the approach. I share all the things I like. I share a few things I see that could be received differently (either positively or negatively) by others with a different perspective. I share a couple of things I’d suggest doing in a better way. But I also explain why, how I could be wrong and how I could be right. It’s not my decision and I’m not the authority, but it’s my personal opinion and only something the receiver should “take into consideration.” It goes hand-in-hand with my own belief not to intrude in someone else’s life for any reason. I will tell them if I think they’re doing something that could hurt them or another person, but beyond that, it’s unfair to put my expectations on another person’s life, beliefs, choices, actions or opinions. Feedback is simply a way of sharing an alternative way of doing something.

When you ask for feedback, it’s imperative that you go into it knowing you might not like the responses you get back. If you can’t accept that, maybe you shouldn’t ask for feedback. I’ve chosen on occasion not to ask for feedback because I wasn’t ready to hear the constructive criticism. It was about me. Not about the person sharing his/her feelings. That’s the important part — you have to be in a place to both share and receive the feedback, as it’s not a one-way street. When someone says “I didn’t like this because of “x” reason, it needs to be explored. Perhaps through discussion, one of both parties involved will change their opinion by learning additional information. This is why I generally prefer interactive feedback, as it is a chance to give a full-circle review and discussion so that feelings may be less hurt, ideas may be more open and change might be better accepted.

Now that I don’t have a ‘boss’ looking over my shoulder every day, I have to ask for feedback, as opposed to receiving it through normal or natural means. It can be hard to ask someone to give you honest feedback, but if you don’t have the strength to ask for it, then you might not have the strength to receive it. As I move forward with getting my edits back from the publisher next week, I am realizing that is my next real round of feedback. It’ll be the last stop before the novel is completed and put in the hands of readers to decide how and when to review my work. And that will bring another whole round of feedback, which could be good and it could be bad. It took me a while to accept it, and I’m still not 100% comfortable, but I know if it goes poorly, there will be something to learn from it that needs to be considered before I move forward with another step.

When I get to the crux of it all, the secret to accepting feedback is learning how to give feedback. Once you find the words to tell someone how they are doing, you also learn how to interpret when someone is sharing feedback with you. The key is to listening, not just hearing what they say. Recognize the words. Understand the choices they made with how they told you. Figure out what it means from your perspective and their perspective. And in the middle somewhere, sometimes closer to them, sometimes closer to you, is an answer where you can feel pride and joy.

How are you at accepting feedback? Sharing your opinion with others? Do you balance the good and the bad? Or do you tend to shy away from anything negative?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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