Ask for Feedback
Hello sweet readers, welcome back to my blog.
Today I'll go over Chapter 10 of The Success Principles Workbook, a resource I've been using this summer to help me to stay motivated on my goals.
Chapter 10 is titled "Ask for Feedback Early and Often." Feedback is something I feared, because I wasn't used to receiving constructive criticism. As an approval seeker, my feelings get hurt easily when anyone responds to me or my work is a not-so-positive way.
But over the years, my mentors taught me about the value of constructive criticism. When I was starting out as a MOJO aka Mobile Journalist aka One-Man-Band in Fort Myers, Florida, I sought advice from a News Director as well as from a Chief Photojournalist in Flagstaff, Arizona. I wanted a job there and was willing to do whatever it took professionally to get their next reporting job whenever it opened up.
So for about half a year, I sent regular emails to them with links to my stories and waited for their feedback. Here are some of what they wrote:
- Your voice tracks sound like you're singing. Take a deep breath and speak in your normal lower tone.
- Your sentences end like a question. Remember that a period means voice goes down at the end.
- Remember to film in a sequence - wide shot, medium shot, close-up shot. And switch up angles so it doesn't look like a jump cut.
- Your stand-ups are boring. Try to integrate yourself into the story. Be interesting.
Their feedback was helpful, because not only did it help me to improve as a broadcast journalist, it also let them know I was listening and taking their directions well. So by the time a position opened up, I got the job.
The workbook reminds you that you're always in charge of whom to ask for feedback, how to ask for feedback, when to ask for feedback, and how to respond to the feedback you receive in the most effective way.
This brings me to just a few days ago, when an unsolicited feedback came my way from a woman at the driving range. She asked if she could give me some advice, and I said sure not knowing what to expect. She told me that I should not crouch down to put a ball on the tee when I'm practicing my driver shots. She said it looked really ugly and I should use my foot and my club to put the ball on the tee, especially when I was wearing a skort. While I appreciated the feedback, I questioned her intention for giving it to me. The tone in which she spoke wasn't the kindest, and I felt like I was being reprimanded by my mom. I also felt like she was body-shaming me, because I know the guys have no issues just bending down and getting their balls.
That type of feedback was negative, because it was focusing on what's missing or less-than-perfect about what I'm doing. Exceptional feedback-givers focus on the positive - praise, encouragement, results, etc. I remind myself to give advice in this way as much as possible because I know how easily feelings could get hurt.
On the same token, it's important to work on how you respond to negative feedback. My knee-jerk reaction may be to get defensive and to find fault in the advice-giver. But it helps me to think of the feedback as an opportunity for improvement. Take out the thought that it's personal, because many times it's not. It's just our pride getting in the way and wanting to take things personally when it may not be the feedback-giver's intention.
We're all likely to receive more negative feedback than positive ones. It's just how people are wired when they communicate these things. The key is to stay neutral so that you can gain the most from these pieces of advice. Here are three ways the workbook helps you to do that:
Don't Cave In or Quit
Don't Get Mad at the Messenger
Don't Ignore It
Keep in mind that not all feedback is accurate. People may not have the right background or expertise in the field in which they're giving advice. And others may just be jaded or be seeing you and/or your work from a biased filter. It's helpful when multiple people give you similar advice - that probably means there is value to what you're being told.
When you ask for advice, it's helpful to let the advice-giver know that they should feel comfortable doing so. Not having a defensive attitude helps. And communicating that you need helpful information that can allow you to grow is a good way to start the dialogue. Whatever ends up coming your way, don't take it personally. Just know that it's not a judgment about you in any way. And focus on the most helpful parts of the feedback so that you can begin to apply them during your growing journey.
The workbook guides you through a number of exercises about asking for feedback in your business life, personal relationships, and future success. And there is an action plan for you to fill out based on the feedback you receive. I don't know if I need a structure like this for the season I'm currently in, but it's helpful if you have never really asked anyone for this type of feedback before.
The Life Success Journal portion of the workbook prompts you to write about lessons you've learned from asking for feedback. It also gives you an opportunity to give yourself some feedback as well with these two questions:
What three strengths of yours will most contribute to your future success?
What three improvements will most contribute to your success?
I hope this chapter encourages you to reach outside of your comfort zone by seeking help from others in this unique way. Remember that receiving feedback may not always feel great initially, but it will help you to become aware of things you may not have been aware of before. And it will also help you to get closer to achieving goals beyond your wildest imaginations.