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Feedback. Wednesday February 26, 2014

Once upon a time feedback was what you got when you took your microphone too close to the speakers – or at least it was when I was in a band way back in the early eighties.

While that is still one of the meanings the more common one we know is that of helpful information or criticism that is given to someone in order to improve a performance or product.

I think I'd like to put the word "helpful" in inverted commas because, in my experience, feedback can very often be negative.

Is it feedback or is it just somebody else's opinion?

Feedback can surely only be given by an expert in the particular performance or product. The man on the street is probably not an expert, but you may be sure he has an opinion.

One of my friends is very good at taking feedback/criticism/opinion. He listens politely, says "Thank you" very genuinely and then processes the information much later. He doesn't get emotional or defensive and he doesn't give anything back; the "Thank you" is all.

Weeks later he might say "I found your comments most helpful. Thank you again." But he never has a problem in dismissing comments he considers unfounded or mere opinion.

He certainly does not take hurtful or spiteful comments to heart and chew over their bitterness in the small hours, or waste time wondering how to modify his behaviour in order to comply with the expectations of others, and grieving over his inability to do so.

Wise sages encourage us to "just be yourself" and we know that they're right. After all, if we are not being ourselves, then just who is going to do that job for us?

We're always going to get feedback, but we have to filter it carefully. Some of our friends, some of the members of our family may be experts in who we are and we may take their loving feedback on board. They want us to be fully expressed as ourselves. Most of the rest of the world just doesn't have a clue about who we are, so how can they possibly give meaningful comments?

What's more; experts normally wait to be asked. They know their opinion carries weight and rarely scatter it around like confetti. So, if you value someone's opinion and wish for it – then ask. If an opinion is given without asking, you have full permission to ignore it. But, say thank you anyway; it's only polite (and it really annoys anyone who is just trying to upset you!)

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 10:54am

this is interesting, I hadn't made the distinction between feedback and opinion previously. I’m going to try to recall that and apply it in the future and see if it helps me to stop feeling hostile with people’s opinions, which doesn't happen that often these days as my perspective is a lot better, but it does rear its ugly head every so often...

The Entertrainer Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 11:31am

Thanks Mary (you rock star!) Good distinctions. I wonder what the purpose of people's "feedback" really is? Often it seems to be to make themselves feel better or superior. Feedback is something I'd relish from a professional coach whose services I was paying for.
So here's a flip. If I perceive "feedback" as "coaching" - it automatically has a positive intention. I've only thought of this as a result of your wise words.
I might just, in future, when given the "gift" of feedback, ask the person to coach me. I might use a question like, "How could I improve this in future?"
That would encourage that person to support my team and my goals!
Just a thought...

Anonymous Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 1:43pm

Good point, Entertrainer!

Thanks for your blog, Mary - wise words [and note to self - do as you would be done by!]

Moodie x

Anonymous Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 2:51pm

I wish I had just said 'thank you' to someone who insisted I hear their feedback on Sunday. Suffice to say it wasn't positive feedback and it has knocked me for six. It has taken me a few days to get it out of my system and to see it for what it was - just someone being down right rude! Next time I will just say 'thank you'. Xx

Richard Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 4:34pm

Thankyou Mary. Once again you have written a concise, clear and helpful blog. Especially the bit about experts. Musicians tell it like it is! Peace & Love, Rich x

Silvia A Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 5:34pm

Mary, on my early twenties I had wonderful friends whom gave me feedback. We were so sincere to each other , we really try to be better persons. Now I notice I refuse it when it is not in the right intention or with the wise words. I really appreciate to know about myself what others notice but I don't.
In a certain sense I am like your friend.
Did I understand it the right way?

Anonymous Wed, Feb 26th 2014 @ 5:58pm

Thanks- this is so timely. I have just asked for feedback on a job interview that I didn't get, so I will ensure I thank them for their opinion and move on.

Julia Thu, Feb 27th 2014 @ 2:08pm

Excellent. Go for it! I love that,...thanking a prospective employer (who turns you down) for their opinion. And then move on..Good luck.
Well done Mary for putting this idea into Anon's head

Anonymous Sat, Mar 1st 2014 @ 9:40am

What if ... the feedback is from your boss and she insists you modify your behaviour, or else... how to keep integrity and self?

Daren Tue, Mar 25th 2014 @ 6:29pm

Late response on this, but I wanted to briefly reflect so that I may reinforce (for myself) one of the strong points Mary makes...

"Experts normally wait to be asked. They know their opinion carries weight and rarely scatter it around like confetti."

By logical extension, what does that suggest about those whose opinions are frequently scattered about?

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