Can you live without feedback?
There’s no doubt that if you get the right kind of feedback it can lift you to new heights. There’s also no doubt that getting the wrong type of feedback (and from the wrong people who don’t have your best interests at heart) can leave you drooling in the doldrums.
But what about getting no feedback at all?
We like to use the mantra that “no news is good news” but that’s because we’ve go so used to switching on the TV (or tablet) and being bombarded by the worst kind of news. In our attempts to flee the horrors of the news channels, we also miss the heart-warming stories of courage, fortitude, compassion and achievement.
Good feedback shows us the way. It gives us something to aim at and aspire to. It bolsters our resources and our resolve. It gives us extra energy and drive. It focuses us on doing the right thing. Without it, not only might we fail to move forward, we will probably end up weaving our way in an uncoordinated and delusional fashion, sublimely unaware that we’re heading off in the wrong direction. Sublime, that is, until we realise how ridiculous the situation is that we eventually find ourselves in. “Why did no-one tell me”, we cry. “Surely someone noticed I was heading for a ditch!”
Getting this sort of feedback isn’t easy. It’s too unpractised. Most organisations I work with state Giving Feedback as one of their weakest areas. On a personal level its beset with mine fields: “What if I say the wrong thing?”, “What if they think I’m getting at them?”, “What if they think I don’t have the right to give them feedback?”. These are Train Stop questions. They stop us in our tracks.
So if we want to keep moving forward and see the receipt of feedback as a way to transport us there, we have to make it easier for people to overcome their Train Stop questions. That means granting them permission. You really just have to ask, but be selective at first:
1. Find a small group of people (2 0r 3) whose judgement you value and ask them to give you feedback
2. Be specific about the area you are seeking feedback about
3. Thank them and explain how much it has meant to you
You don’t have to believe it, agree with it, or like it: but you must accept it. If not, you won’t get it again and you risk taking a backward step.