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Last Updated on September 26, 2019

Why You Need to Ask for Feedback…and How to Use It

Why You Need to Ask for Feedback…and How to Use It

Most people don’t like to listen to views or assessments of others regarding their work or lifestyle. It is really a regrettable component of human behavior that many of us choose to steer clear of all feedback on the chance that it will be negative, in an effort to protect ourselves from hearing things we don’t want to hear. Why is it that? Moreover, why must we presume that the feedback will likely be unfavorable?

Perhaps it is the root sense that we are simply not good enough which is so persistent in our culture or perhaps the pattern of only offering feedback when we are displeased. The truth is that feedback while frequently overlooked, is nonetheless a particularly useful way to improve your productivity. When utilized effectively feedback can be an invaluable resource to improve your work or behavior that can help to give you an edge.

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Why Do We Need Feedback

Feedback is just a resource to draw on; tools as it were for approval and development. Take care not to internalize feedback. It’s a judgment of work quality, not a personal indictment. Keep it in proper perspective and only give due importance. Feedback it is not about you as an individual: it’s about evaluating and improving the quality of the work you do.

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Quite a while back, during a period I began questioning if anyone was actually listening to what I had to say or using any of the information and strategies I had to offer. Just a few days later, I was given a tangible and unexpected gift from a publishing partner that was a definitive sign that my work was indeed high quality and of value to others.

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Each one of us wonders if we can really do a good enough job and we require the confirmation and motivation that positive feedback provides. The value of this offering had was doubly beneficial. First, it offered confirmation of the quality and value of my work; secondly, it turned out to be a wonderful demonstration of just how I can give useful feedback to others — when appropriate.

How We Can Use Feedback Effectively

  • Request – Most people simply don’t think to offer suggestions or only think to give it when it is in some way negative. Make it a standard practice to ask those you interact with how you’re doing.
  • Listen – It is not helpful to solicit feedback from others if you’re not going to actually listen to it and seriously consider it.
  • Filter – Take into consideration the potential bias of the person offering feedback when weighing the value of their opinions. Do you respect the person’s opinion? Do they have relevant experience and knowledge? Do you have confidence they will be truthful? If not, ignore them.
  • Analyze – When feedback is positive, look for ways to improve even more. Don’t brush off praise or complements! If it is negative, what are you able to glean from it? How can you improve? Keep in mind that any feedback that is malicious or only meant to be destructive has no value; ignore it.
  • Give – Learn to give offer useful feedback to others. Make sure your feedback is truthful, considerate, and helpful. Especially if your feedback is unfavorable, try to present it along with helpful suggestions for improvement.

Don’t be fearful to ask for feedback from people whose opinions you respect. Ask for it, consider it, and learn from it.

Featured photo credit: Yuvraj Singh via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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