This week I am going to share a bit about feedback. I’ve written a lot about it from the point of view of the feedback provider. I’ve written in a way to help the provider provide the difficult and necessary feedback. The other side of finding success with feedback involves how well the recipient is at receiving feedback.
“So, how do I look?” Personal history has taught us to whisper to ourselves “Uh Oh”. The crossroads of this question and others like it has taught me a lot about myself. Another question is “Am I doing a good job?” when posed by someone who works with me. Of course I want to tell the truth, protect the other person’s feelings and encourage them, and I want to share something productive. The points just don’t seem to fit together. Its like these simple questions are transformed into a giant box of disorganized parts that are supposed to be assembled without instructions.
Often, thats too much work and people will simply provide the easy, low risk – “You’re doing great!” Unfortunately, this feedback is misleading and can cause someone to veer or stay off course. Fears and pursuit of harmony too often trump truth and boosting awareness.
I’ve used the example in work where you have someone that is trying very hard, putting in full effort, and they are failing miserably. We want to protect their feelings and we want to keep the fire lit in their belly that is leading them to put so much effort into something. We also want them to learn from the feedback. This situation requires some thought – how do I provide feedback in a constructive way, demonstrating that I care about the person and appreciate their commitment to me and my cause.
Now what about when the person who needs the feedback? Just because they are working hard does not mean they are accomplishing what is required. Sometimes they veer into the dangerous territory of redefining what success looks like without their authority’s consent. Then, when confronted, their angry defenses are erected, almost instantly, and the discussion veers personal and away from the real situation at hand and onto the downward, exhausting spiral of someone’s hurt feelings.
And to quote the surprisingly famous Sweet Brown – “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.
If you find yourself regularly angry when your boss questions your work or if your M.O. is to cloud a situation by bringing in other items or people and wanting to address them rather than the issues at hand, you probably putting yourself at risk. If you don’t make it easier for the person you support to be successful, you become less needed. If you make it more mentally taxing, you become less wanted.
I hope this message helps you find areas where you may be blocking the necessary feedback, helping you adjust your behaviors to open up the opportunities of your potential. If you believe you are great, don’t place your opportunities behind an angry, defensive wall. Your authority may not be willing to climb it.