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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