My offering for the feedback carnival generously hosted by Helen Amery who started us off with “Feedback would happen all the time if…”. It’s easy to blunt off the prompt for a blog by simply ending the sentence. However, this negates from giving feedback the value and attention it deserves. And isn’t that reason we’re carnivalling?
Feedback would happen all the time…if we just realised that it does.
Feedback happens constantly.
If we take the time to notice it, and harness the resources all around that can provide it.
This carnival blog is a call to get comfy with feedback, on the receiving end.
Recently I’ve intentionally spent a lot of time making friends with feedback, triggered by an Emotional Intelligence 360. Giving it, but mainly focusing on how we receive it, and practising getting comfortable with the discomfort of hearing what others have to say. What they like, what they don’t like. How they feel I can be better for them. Things they’d like me to do more of, less of.
I’m dreaming of time when its common practice that feedback talk happens as standard, within the 1:1s I’m part of. It’s expected, it’s what we do here. We value it. [substitute dreaming with determined to create]
When you ask the people you manage to conduct a EI360 assessment about you then provide face to face feedback, the reality is that the process of sitting there and having that conversation requires employment of the exact competencies you’re receiving feedback about. The conditions required for that to truly and openly occur require significant self-awareness to even establish a sense of mutuality where honesty can prevail. To avoid the risk of co-dependent responses where people say what they think you want to hear. Ego feeding for apparently everyone’s benefit.
When was the last time you asked for direct feedback that took you to discomfort?
How did you make it ‘ok’ for that person to tell you what they dislike?
“You could do with being a bit more organised. For example, your phone battery is always dead and you sometimes send things last-minute”
“Nothing seems to phase you. I’d like to see the cracks”
“You struggle to impose your impact on the meeting and project your ideas”
“Where have you been today? Your hair looks patchy. Have you dyed it? If I can’t tell you who can?”
“You’re inconsistent. Sometimes I feel like an equal, sometimes I feel like an underling”
“I want more details of your expectations when you give me a task”
“What did you mean? It’s poor grammar and doesn’t make sense”
“You ask questions like you’re manipulating me for an answer”
“Where is your self-empathy? I’m hearing nothing about your own worth”
How does that sit with you?
If you laughed, what was that about? If you cringed, what does that tell you?
I remember theses comments clearly, along with accompanying facial expressions (where face to face), and my resonant emotions. Some I had to stop myself laughing out loud. Others I had to stop myself giving a mean retaliative response. Maybe I didn’t stop myself. Then for some I paused, felt that for an extremely long moment, then did something. I even felt the need to reason with one point, and another I blatantly said I’m ignoring. I also cried.
The best experiences of the above pieces of feedback where the conversations afterwards, in which we continued to explore. Noticing the discomfort, asking “how was that for you?”. Sharing the experience of the previous interaction. How it felt. What we thought. Reactions we controlled. Valuing it and each other for going there. And so it continued. [Thank you, I am grateful for you]
Asking for feedback comes with the responsibility of being able to hold the feedback you receive, and accepting it for what it is. Insight. Something you hadn’t realised. A new perspective. New information. It’s not only the provider of feedback who needs to consider their language, intention, impact, integrity and so on in providing feedback, but also the receiver of feedback who is responsible making it ‘ok’. When self-conceptualising our brain automatically tips our focus of appraisal toward the negative. I understand this to be at a ratio of 2.9:1 negative to positive. For everyone 1 positive, we easily provide 3 negative pieces of information about ourself or our performance in a given situation. Who’s responsibility is to address this balance? Do you need a shit sandwich to help with that? Or a 5:1 positive to negative ratio to prevent the discomfort with this feedback becoming manifested self-deprecation? I wondering about Bill Torbert’s ideas of action inquiry, to develop Action Logic: the way in which we interpret our surroundings and react when our power or safety is challenged. To view all our activity as inquiry, and all responses as feedback. Feedback would happen all the time if we weren’t so scared of not being there yet.
This discomfort doesn’t stop with intended complimentary feedback. There are plenty of comments like those above that offer more affirmative observations which it would be ignorant of me not to acknowledge. However, I’ll share none of them here, because we both know it’s even less socially acceptable to be comfortable with hearing how great someone thinks you are. What a shame that is.
So far I’ve learnt that the feedback worth doing comes with resident discomfort of hearing something of genuine affirmation or potential threat, and the challenge is to keep looking. If someone is brave enough to share it, be brave enough to hold it. Let’s get uncomfy.