Ken Blanchard once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions,” as we continue on our journey to success. It is important we look at the role of getting feedback. There are two kinds of feedback you might encounter – negative and positive. We tend to prefer the positive – that is, results, money, praise, a raise, a promotion, inner peace and intimacy. It feels better. It tells us that we are on course, that we are doing the right thing.
We tend not to like negative feedback – lack of results, little or no money, criticism, poor evaluations, unhappiness, or inner conflict. However, there is as much useful data in negative feedback as there is in positive feedback. It tells us that we are off course, headed in the wrong direction, doing the wrong thing. That is also valuable information.
Sometimes, what we do is yell at those who criticise us or probably we tend to look for their own errors or mistakes so that we can criticise them in return. We often make the mistakes of internalising negative feedback or criticism. Don’t internalize the negative feedback you are better off knowing the truth than living with wrong assumptions. Be open to constructive criticism.
The only way to improve from yesterday’s performance is asking your colleague, associates or companions where to improve on. Don’t attack the messenger, reflect on the message and adjust were necessary. We don’t like to hear it, but the truth is, nobody is too big to be corrected. If you are known to be defensive, people will continually ignore your mistakes because they can predict your reactions. We all have tendency to be defensive most especially if the criticism is coming from someone of lower profile.
When our reactions are ego-driven, the following statements are likely to ensue “What did he/she think he/she knows.” “He/She thinks he/she can do it better.” “Why do you think I care on what you think?” Take interest in others opinion or feedback on every activity you engage in. To err is human. No matter how professional you are give your works or writings to others to constructively criticise. I send out my write-up to friends and close associates to help proofread before posting. They help check for tautology, punctuation errors, vagueness or typographical error. Pride and perfectionism is one of the major reasons why many are not too open for critique.
Whether we ask or not, either we ignore it or not, life has a way of getting back to us on everything we do. Sometimes, we ignore the yellow light and pretend we didn’t see it until the little problem escalates and things gets out of control. Feedback comes to us in various forms. A rejected business plan, proposal or enrolments are feedback on their own. Either the feedback comes from someone we like or the opposite. We can’t do anything against the truth, but for the truth. The truth is always the truth.
However, you must also consider the source of your feedback. Some source is polluted by the psychological distortions of the person giving you the feedback. For example, if your drunk husband tells you, “You are a no-good bleep.” That is probably not accurate or useful feedback. Whatever feedback you get, never go against your gut. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t.
Additionally, you should look for patterns in the feedback you get. Jack Rosenbum once said, “If one person tells you you’re a horse, they are crazy. If three people tells you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle.” The point is that if several people are telling you the same thing, there is probably some truth in it.
Get feedback from friends, your children, employees, client, boss, mentors or spouse. Don’t assume everybody is happy with what you are doing or how you are treating them. What if they are afraid to confront you with how they personally feel? No matter how negative the feedback might be, don’t attack the messenger personality. I have had my own fair share in negative feedback from friends, audience, client’s, co-workers and colleague. Those who constructively criticise you have your interest at heart. They want you to be good at what you do, or probably become a better version of yourself. Don’t attack the messenger, reflect on the message and consider the source.
How do you deal with negative feedback? Acknowledge you did the best you could with the awareness, information, knowledge and skills you had at the time. Make sure to thank everyone for their feedback and their insight. If someone is hostile in the delivery of their feedback, remember that it is an expression of their level of fear, not your level of incompetence or weakness. Justifying, explaining and blaming are all a waste of everybody’s time. Just take in the feedback, use whatever, is applicable and valuable for the future and discard the rest.
Take some time to go back and review your successes. It’s important to remind yourself that you have had many more successes than you have had failures. Refocus your vision, incorporate the lessons learned, dust yourself off, get back on your horse and keep riding.
Daniel Cole is an inspirational writer, author and an international motivational speaker. He is the founder of the International Institute of Personal Development, South Africa. His book “The Science of Success” is available on amazon and other online stores. To read more of Daniel Cole articles, visit his blog at http://bit.ly/danielcole