Thank your savior. Here is why…
At a recent conference where I was a participant, during the first break, I spotted a dignified gentleman in a dark blue suit. I spotted some chewing gum sticking to his coat on the back. Obviously, he did not know. We had been in the conference for more than a couple of hours and the contrast of the white gum on his dark blue coat was striking. I was sure a lot of people had noticed it.
As soon as I noticed it, I went up to him, introduced myself and pointed this out to him. He was mortified. Shocked, he quickly turned and headed to the restroom. During the lunch break, I noticed that the gum had been removed. However, this gentleman completely avoided me during the rest of the conference.
Not surprised by the response
I was not surprised by his response because I have experienced such responses in my 35+ years of my work life though I have often wondered.
In the work context, I have seen that people tend to get upset with those who provide constructive feedback that could actually help in their course correction. Ironically, people would be on great terms with all those who have observed their areas of improvement but have kept quiet about them. Call it shame, embarrassment or anger, in most cases, people’s relationships suffer once any constructive feedback has been delivered.
It is like a falling out with your mirror.
Confidentiality is key
No wonder then that when I conduct 360-degree feedback for a client, I go to great lengths to protect the identity of the feedback respondents. It seems almost like the Witness Protection Program.
Even when the feedback is completely anonymous, there is a certain temptation in the feedback requestor to identify who could have given that piece of feedback. I call this syndrome ‘identify the handwriting on a soft copy’. I prevail upon such people to focus on what the feedback is rather than who has given it.
I have been a facilitator for several years now and as a facilitator, I am used to getting feedback at the end of every single session. Now, as an author, I get feedback of a different kind. I have made great use of feedback until now and continue to do so.
However, one needs to use a sense of proportion while acting on feedback.
I recollect an incident early on in my life. One of my colleagues had gotten introduced for the first time to this concept of constructive feedback in the MNC where we were working. He got so excited that he kept asking people for constructive feedback. At one point, with so much constructive feedback on his plate, he ended up completely confused and clueless.
Acting on feedback is a choice. I speak to my coaching clients about the ‘center of gravity’. We must have our own view of our behavior (our ‘center of gravity’) and we must assess the impact of the constructive feedback on this ‘center of gravity’. If warranted, we ought to move our ‘center of gravity’ to a new ‘location’ based on the feedback. However, if we have no ‘center of gravity’, every piece of feedback will make us change until we begin losing our identity of who we are. This was what was happening to my colleague.
I have also realized that there are things that I am unable to change despite getting consistent feedback around them. Beyond a point, I take these as part of my nature much like my height that is not likely to change any further. One learns to work with or around such things.
Constructive feedback is a gift. Like a GPS, it helps us change course where warranted.
Our feedback respondents are our saviors. They certainly deserve a Thank You.
Thank your savior!
I am an expert at developing a Road Map for my coaching clients based on feedback. I use some very powerful questions to help develop the Road Map.
Interested in creating your own Road Map to head to a promising future? Reach out to me at [email protected] Let’s build your future together.