One of the greatest tools available to all of us in the pursuit of showing up as our best selves is feedback. However, feedback can be a scary idea and can harm performance if not asked for and received properly. Feedback is defined as “information about a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement”. Based on that definition it’s a good thing, right? Once permission has been established between the feedback receiver and the feedback giver, yes, it is an amazing thing. Here are three major benefits to feedback.
People naturally want to perform to the best of their abilities. We practice, try new things to get an edge, and observe others to see what the “best of the best” are doing. All of it in the interest of achieving our potential or even surpassing it. The primary reason that every legendary athlete has had a coach is for feedback. From Michael Jordan to Serena Williams to Tom Brady; each arguably the best in their sport of all time, had coaches. The G.O.A.T.S. paying individual coaches to give them feedback. Growing through feedback!
I briefly mentioned permission earlier and this is where feedback can go awesome or awful. Unsolicited feedback or advice is typically not received well. If you don’t believe me, just tell your significant other what you think of those pants you can’t stand, without them asking for your opinion. Accurate or not, without permission it will fall on deaf ears or even prompt a defensive “oh yeah, well your shirt is ugly”. With this in mind; ask for permission or grant permission to open up the feedback conversation. Once that is accomplished, feedback is welcome and readily available.
Have you ever left a voicemail only to listen to it later and think “I didn’t know I sounded like that”? For those golf fans, have you ever videoed your golf swing? I have and my swing looks more like Fred Flintstone’s then Fred Couple’s (arguably the prettiest swing ever). My point is we really don’t know what we look or sound like unless we ask for feedback. Looking at that golf video saves a lot of time by showing your swing flaws and how to change it. It may not always be pleasant to hear or see but it will save hours and increase your efficiency.
One of my favorite exercises that I do yearly is to send an email to my five closest confidants and ask for feedback. I ask for the three areas that I can improve the most in, giving them permission to do so. I have also found that letting them know they can tell me what they feel I do well is fine, but the purpose of the exercise is to know my flat sides. Typically, people will tell you the areas you can improve in if you also accept the areas, they feel you excel at. Feedback can hurt in the short term but is invaluable to our long-term growth plan.