As far as learning is concerned, feedback is a valuable tool that if used well, can be worked to your advantage.
In view of how valuable feedback is, I was surprised to find that less seems to be written on receiving it, than there is on giving it.
Could this be a sign of our lack of receptivity to criticism? Maybe. Or could it be related to our willingness to scrutinise the failings of others more readily than we are to look at our own shortcomings? Possibly.
Either way, feedback is something we need to readily invite for both our personal and professional development if we want to reach our potential and make our greatest contribution.
Why is feedback so beneficial?
We all know that we learn more by doing than we do by theoretical explanation alone. In fact, the use of self-feedback as part of our learning process is a core component of reflective practice. As the age-old axiom says,
“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, let me do and I’ll understand.” Confucius
This in mind, learning ‘on the job’ is the best approach to developing a new skill. Whether learning to play an instrument, become a nurse, or to speak another language, learning whilst doing is better than theory alone.
But though feedback is beneficial for skill development, I want to share three reasons why feedback also help your personal growth.
#1. Feedback develops humility
Receiving feedback develops humility, as it’s a gentle reminder of your fallibility and need for the support and input of others in the pursuit of any endeavour. In receiving feedback on a consistent basis, you’ll learn to keep a healthy and balanced perspective of yourself.
#2. Feedback challenges perfectionism
If you struggle with perfectionism, feedback can help you to accept your flaws and go easier on yourself. As your ability to receive feedback develops, so too will your acceptance of your limitations.
This can result in a shift in thinking that enables you to focus on the things you do best rather than giving attention to your shortcomings.
#3. Feedback develops self-awareness
We all have blind-spots and the Johari Window illustrates this well. Despite how mature, experienced, or well read you are, it’s impossible to know yourself completely.
Though you’re able to understand yourself better through reflective learning, receiving feedback from others is crucial if you want to grow more self-aware, as they’ll see things that you don’t.
How should we respond to feedback?
Here are a few things that you need to consider when receiving feedback from others:
- Listen carefully — Be attentive to what the person giving feedback is saying by not interrupting.
- Show tolerance — Separate content from delivery. Some people aren’t that tactful when giving feedback.
- Seek clarity — Be clear on what the person giving feedback is saying by asking for specific examples.
- Quantify opinion — Measure feedback against evidence. This might mean getting a second or third opinion.
- Be grateful — Whether negative or positive, feedback is always helpful. So be sure to say, ‘thanks’.
Inviting feedback can be scary, as it puts you in a place of vulnerability. Maybe you’ll hear something you’re avoiding, or worse still, see an area of self-denial exposed. But the more you practice asking people to give input into the areas of your life that you want to see develop, the braver you’ll become.
Receiving feedback isn’t easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. However, if you learn to be open to embracing feedback in all areas of your life, you’ll see progress in not just your skill development, but more importantly, in your personal growth too.
Questions to consider
How consistent is your openness to feedback? When was the last time you took a few moments to evaluate yourself? Who was the last person you gave permission to speak candidly about your blind spots? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.