One of the most underrated skill is – how we handle feedback. It is not just about receiving and processing it , but also giving feedback to others.
We constantly receive feedback from our social network. With advent of online social media, you get a feedback instantly and is often amplified.
Feedback comes in many forms.
Suppose you are launching a new product or applying for a job. You are having performance discussion with your boss.
Customer rejects your product. Interviewer declines politely to give you job offer. Your boss gives you lower performance rating.
Then, you ask for the feedback or reason to customer/interviewer or your boss.
Person will have a reason for sure. But they will not tell you real one.
Instead, you will get fake reason like –
It is too expensive, We no longer have specific job opening, your performance was really good, but not up to the mark as compared to others (whatever that means).
If you really believe fake reasons, you fall into the trap.
Real reasons can be – I do not trust you, am afraid to change, have bias towards other employee.
Why do people give fake reasons ? Sometimes they are afraid that it will impact the relationship or they really do not have confidence that their assessment is correct (mostly due to lack of information), so they prefer to sugar-coat feedback.
Negative outcome is often an indication that you should make your stuff better.
How do we differentiate between constructive feedback and not-so-useful ones ? If you are looking to improve, which ones should we act upon ?
Immediate response is to reject the feedback outright or even question sanctity of it – who are you to give me feedback or even saying that you do not understand me. Other response could be – to listen to each one of it and act upon it.
Both these approaches does not make you any good.
Idea is to categorize and selectively dismiss the feedback. It is like saying – Am interested in listening and acting upon feedback which makes me or my product/service better. I would simply ignore the rest .
There is another way in which you simply ignore feedback and take the journey with the people who believe in you. Steve Jobs did it successfully.
If you are giving feedback, first try to understand how the feedback is going to be used. If it is going to make the product better, or better employee, you should give real + actionable feedback. You can also mention how you derived the feedback.
It does not help if you simply mention ‘ it did not work out’. Other party would be interested to know real reasons instead of fake ones. If you switch it to actionable one like
He should work around my procurement process to sell product, or acquire specific job skill or even offering another role which suits his personality.
Then, receiver would treat negative outcome as another improvement opportunity. It may even lead to another fruitful venture.