90 Percent

Project management, productivity, change management, and more!

Why feedback is important and what to avoid

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Feedback is a free way of getting better, or improving everything around us.

Of course there is positive/constructive feedback, and there is negative/destructive feedback. Here I will concentrate on why it is important to take all feedback into consideration and not how you should give feedback to others.

All feedback gives valuable information

Feedback can be given on your work, your project, on anything! Whether it’s being said constructively or not, there is a meaning behind it, and by actually listening to it and keeping an opened mind, you can use it to change something and improve.

Unfortunately, most will give meaningless feedback like “I hate it”, “It’s horrible”, which shows that something is potentially wrong, but doesn’t give any detail to what. When this happens, try to gather more information, by asking this simple question: why?

You have to understand the feedback to be able to make your own opinion on the matter, and then decide if a change could improve something. For example, you could be told that your emails are too wordy and they are heavy to read. You may not have noticed, and that feedback as given you the opportunity to fine-tune the way you write emails.

It could come from friends, colleagues, clients, managers; it doesn’t matter, it can all be useful, and it’s free! Quick tip: you may have to ask for feedback to receive any, most will not give any otherwise.

Common reactions to avoid

Feel attacked: It’s hard sometimes to receive feedback that seem to diminish us or our work, but avoid taking it as an attack, that will make you go on the defensive and find any way of working around the feedback, which will solve nothing.

For example, if someone tells you that you mispronounced a certain word, instead of lashing at the person telling them “you always heard it that way”, you may want to consider correcting the way you say it and actually thanking the person.

Destroy the feedback: When you don’t agree with the comment and automatically think it’s “stupid”.

For example, someone says your website is hard to understand, and your reaction is to think he’s probably a “newb” and that’s why he can’t find his way and nothing is wrong with the website. If one person can’t find his way, chances are, many others will have the same problem, maybe your website needs to be adjusted!

Ignore it: That’s just wrong, that leaves you blinded to what’s around you, and prevents any evolution whatsoever.

Over-justify: Some may feel compelled to justify why they do what they do, whatever it is, whatever the feedback. You ignore the feedback, but it’s even worst since you justify that what you are doing wrong, is right.

For example, let’s say your coding could use some improvements, and your team-lead gives you a great tip, and you tell him how “you learned it that way, and many do it that way…”. By doing so, you miss the chance of improving your coding, and you probably annoyed your team-lead!

In conclusion

Feedback is valuable and an important part or your evolution, ask for it and people are generally happy to give it you. Actually, if you ask for feedback, people will tend to more constructive, give it a try!

2 thoughts on “Why feedback is important and what to avoid

  1. I suggest you write a parallel post on how to *give* feedback. Off the top of my head, fundamental points would be :

    – Stick to the facts
    – Use positive words but do not glaze them in honey
    – Strengthen with examples
    – Ask feedback on your feedback (“What do you think of my suggestion?”)

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