Why You Should Seek Feedback That Makes You Feel Uncomfortable

Why You Should Seek Feedback That Makes You Feel Uncomfortable

“It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it,” Stephen Covey. To begin with, some people feel very uncomfortable when getting feedback, especially in a context where it was not sought in the first place.

So, when Stephen Covey speaks of humility in seeking feedback, it is one act of appreciating the fact that often we are always learning. I am reminded of a chat I had with a friend of mine a few years ago where we came to a consensus that the letter L for learners in the school of life never expires for some people. We are learning every day and for those seeking to improve, feedback is an essential part of the process.

The only challenge perhaps with a majority of people and it is not their choice but rather our nature as human beings, is that we love to hear only good things about ourselves. And that is a tricky situation because if you only want to hear good feedback and nothing negative, you will only remain the same.

No wonder some people perfect the act of dishonest feedback for the sake of making people happy at the expense of helping them grow or improve. Honest feedback is as hard to come by as is to give it unless one has developed a habit of it.

That is why Robert Kiyosaki noted that giving honest and well-intended feedback is often confused with being mean. It’s not mean; it’s nice. The paradox sometimes is that those people who label it mean are the ones actively seeking honest feedback in the first place.

This reminds me again of a narrative where somebody noted that even those Christians who believe that when people die they go to heaven are never ready or don’t want to die to go there, though going to heaven is what they seek. (Note: this is just an illustration and not a doctrinal teaching that people who die go to heaven. They don’t.)

Feedback, if anything, plays an important part in the growth of a person seeking development. It offers insights into where someone is not doing well to work on it and become better. In addition, it helps people become effective communicators.

In an instance where you find yourself giving a talk to people, try as much as you can to seek feedback at the end in terms of clarity of whatever you presented and your presentation skills. That way, you will be equipped to present better the next time you have another opportunity thus making you an effective communicator. Who doesn’t want that?

To be a bit brutal, seek feedback that makes you feel uncomfortable rather than the one that makes you feel comfortable if you have to choose one. The feedback that points out where you did badly help you to identify areas that need to be seriously worked on to be better.

If somebody gives honest feedback, and it is all good, seek another person, and if it is still good then focus on bettering. Better still, look deeply into the people who are giving you feedback in the first place and identify how you relate to them.

Junior staff often fear offering honest feedback for fear of reprimand. Students may not offer honest feedback to their teacher for fear of being penalized. In such a case, the teacher needs to build trust with the students to such a level that they know their feedback will not attract any negative consequences.

This brings us to the individual receiving the feedback. If the person has a genuine desire to improve and be better at what they are doing and seeks feedback either from their juniors or seniors, they should not be reactive especially when the feedback touches on areas they are not comfortable with, the negatives.

In a more subtle way, what we could label as negative criticism is constructive criticism instead. It can drive us to improve, be better listened to, better communicators, better skilled at what we do, and motivate us to do better than we thought we could.

Constructive criticism also plays a role in mistake-proofing. If one made a mistake in whatever they are doing and people decide to offer feedback on the positives only, there is a very high chance that that person will repeat the same mistake again and again.

  In a nutshell, honest constructive criticism may make us feel uncomfortable, but it helps us improve and be a better version of ourselves.  One person summed it all up, honest feedback is brutally rude to hear but aromatherapy for the brain through the ear.

If you look at honest feedback, especially constructive feedback that touches on where one needs to improve and think through it all and act on it, you can never be the same.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Politics, Policy, Technology, Current Affairs, Opinion, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Governance, International Emerging Issues, Society, and culture. For featuring, promotions or support write to us at dailyfocus9@gmail.com
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