• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Listening to feedback isn’t fun

‘Feedback’ is a word that has recently come into the French vocabulary.  It’s been in the English vocabulary for quite a while, but can have a number of different meanings.  We could say, in its simplest expression, feedback “includes any information you get about yourself.”

Giving-FeedbackHonestly though, we’re not really keen on feedback.  We’re not really keen on it because it touches who we are, what we do, or in other words, our identity.

With that in mind, most of us, when we give feedback, tend to gloss over the true growth needs of others.  We don’t want to ‘do wrong’ to the other by pointing out areas where he/she needs further development.  Most of us, when we receive feedback, tend to dismiss (read ‘argue about’) what was shared with us.  “It’s just wrong,” might be a phrase that comes to our minds after receiving some feedback.  When we are on the receiving end, listening to feedback isn’t a lot of fun, or at least that is how we perceive it.

I just started reading the book: Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well.  Two things stood out to me in the early pages of the book.

First, every piece of feedback has some good in it.  We may not like what is said or how it is said, but there are nuggets of wisdom and insight embedded in that feedback that could help us to grow in our character and competency.  A friend used to say: “In every criticism, there is an element of truth, otherwise it wouldn’t hurt so much.”  Our goal in receiving feedback is to sift through what we hear in order to learn how we might grow more.

Second, we need to distinguish between several different kinds of feedback.  The author of Thanks for the Feedback writes: “Broadly, feedback comes in three forms: appreciation (thanks), coaching (here’s a better way to do it), and evaluation (here’s where you stand).”  As a receiver of feedback, one of the first tasks must be to assess what kind of feedback we are talking about.  Our struggle with feedback can often be the result of misunderstanding the kind of feedback being offered.  Or it can be the result of a mix-up between the feedback you are looking for (such as appreciation) and the feedback you are receiving (such as coaching).

Listening to feedback may not be what we long to hear.  However, with a learning posture, we will not only benefit from feedback, we will develop a strategy to work on those needed growth areas of character and competency.

2 Responses

  1. Very timely for me, thank you, David.
    The author of Thanks for the Feedback writes: “Broadly, feedback comes in three forms: appreciation (thanks), coaching (here’s a better way to do it), and evaluation (here’s where you stand).”

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