I recently read about a retiring employee, who was rather candid in his exit interview form, and sent his opinions to everybody in his workplace. Social media jumped in with both feet, taking sides – some saying he should have sent his comments only to HR, others saying it was better that everyone in the office knew. Of course, the oversimplification of social media took away most of the nuances of both arguments.
I have a slightly different take on feedback. I see it as a valuable part of learning.
I have created presentations, dashboards, documents, articles, at least one item a week for years now. I always request feedback when I share my work, but I also seek out comments from those whose opinions I respect. I like to hear different opinions, because it always makes my work better.
I may not like, or accept negative comments. I will still try to understand why the Universe is not in love with my work! And by reviewing my work through other lenses, my thinking becomes more rigorous. I look for that thin line where I achieve simplicity, without losing the nuance. It is never easy, in any medium, to find that balance.
I respect the people around me, and I demonstrate that by respecting their opinions, even when I think they’re wrong.
Feedback is a gift. The giver is sharing the gift of their opinions with you. An indifferent observer would remain neutral, or give you meaningless platitudes. Someone who gives feedback, positive or negative, has invested time, interest or energy to understand your work, and wants to help you improve. The only exception would be people who are so highly critical that they can only tell you what is wrong with your work, not how it can be improved. Also ignore personal criticism, unless you understand why, as opposed to work criticism.
You can choose to appreciate the gift by investing your own time, interest and energy to listen to them, or squander the opportunity to improve your work.
As we go through the mid-year appraisal cycle, this is worth keeping in mind.