Constructive Feedback

We all handle constructive feedback differently. How we handle constructive feedback is shaped by things like our experiences, our personality, and how we were raised.  I also believe that how constructive feedback is delivered plays a big part in how receptive we are to it.

Constructive feedback and me have a love/hate relationship.

Growth is important. A part of my company’s Creed is “I will never stop learning“. Growth and learning cannot happen without failure and criticism. I am avoiding the term criticism because that’s not what I am talking about. What’s the difference?

Both criticism and feedback involve evaluation. As leaders, we need to evaluate each and every situation. However, a key difference between feedback and criticism is that criticism involves judgment and faultfinding, where feedback evaluates and then passes on corrective information.

Jeff Johnson – LinkedIn 

Learning and growth are important to me, I desire constructive feedback. But that does not mean that it’s an easy thing for me to receive. It’s like fitness. I stare at the barbell in front of me sometimes while a battle rages in my head. I know it’s going to suck. Fran is a good example of when I tend to really have a struggle with the stupid barbell. But I know at the end I am going to be sore … and feel great. Throughout the day that crazy 21-15-9 will continue to burn calories and in the long run, along with consistently exercising and eating right it, I am a stronger and healthier person.

That’s how I have to think about constructive feedback. When I think of it this way, even if it’s actually criticism and it’s not a positive thing, I can glean from it what I need to and improve.

Personally I struggle on a deep level with constructive feedback. As a child I longed and strived for approval from a parent that would not give it to me. It did not matter how much I did right or how hard I worked, the focus was always on what I did not do 100% correctly or how someone else did better. Even if I was the winner of the game, the one accepted into the program, the one that got the job and performed well. Nothing was given but criticism. 

That’s no excuse to avoid constructive feedback though. Constructive feedback is important and it’s a necessary part of growth in my personal life, my job, as a father, as a husband, in my faith and so forth. There is really no area that constructive feedback does not belong. Here is a little life hack that I learned. Be purposeful about your attitude when receiving constructive feedback.It goes a long way. As my counselor told me once, don’t operate as that little boy striving for approval that he cannot get. Operate as a competent man who has the opportunity to improve through constructive feedback. It may sounds a little corny or like psych-speak, but it works.

Where I am employed we just started reviewing each other’s work. Overall it’s a lot of positive feedback. Some of the feedback has been hard to hear, but all of it has been constructive feedback. My co-workers have brought me some “ah-ha!” moments, and “Oh, that is a great idea, I will start doing that from now on” thoughts. It’s a good thing we are doing because it directly benefits the people we help every day, as well as improves us.

In my opinion, we as a society we are way too sensitive about feedback and criticism. One little remark and a person can take to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and document all the reasons that the criticism was wrong and how the person who offered it is way off base. Or we can offer criticism remotely without knowing the whole story or having to look into the eyes of those we criticize. All that aside, face to face, person to person, constructive feedback is good. If it has to be done via a text, video call, Slack, or other, just be sure to do it with respect and care. It’s pretty easy to tell when feedback is actually criticism and when it’s not.

If you struggle with feedback like I do from time to time, try and remember that it’s good for you. 

What about giving constructive feedback? Are you good at giving praise, but not constructive feedback? Feel free to leave comments! I’ll be tackling that in another post.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Site Footer