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Embracing Feedback

April 11, 2013

Giving and receiving feedback isn’t always the easiest thing to do. For some, its the hardest thing to do.  Last week in class we were discussing the purpose of critical friends. In our program, critical friends are colleagues that provide constructive feedback on our work.  It’s a necessity if we are to become better writers, presenters, (humans?), etc.  Giving feedback can be difficult because 1) it takes time to give feedback and 2) it can be tricky to convey feedback in a constructive way (don’t type in CAPS if you can help it).  Receiving feedback is also difficult because 1) it means we have to change something about ourselves and 2) it means we need to improve.

daring gratelyWhen I give feedback on papers (and at work), I try to follow Brene Brown’s checklist.  I understand that feedback is hard to receive and can cause people to become defensive.  I am also aware that people don’t like the situation to be sugarcoated only to have a bomb of negativity get dropped on them.  So when I provide feedback I try my best to show the other person that it comes from a place of love and care.  Giving feedback through a live discussion is very helpful, especially on complex issues.  That way I can understand what the other person was thinking (which clarifies the intent) so we can find creative ways to address the issue.  Or in the case of papers, I pose questions instead of criticisms.

As for receiving feedback, I’m fortunate to have critical friends that offer feedback in constructive ways, although the first time reading the comments is always a little tough.  And sometimes I receive feedback that feels like I was just stabbed jabbed by a knife, but I try to take each comment as an opportunity (or challenge) to improve.  I hope with time feedback gets easier, but until then, the belief that the feedback is well-intended and a new opportunity will have to do.  And maybe a box of Mocha Almond Fudge or a big glass of wine.

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