Feedback can be your friend, but only if you ask for it. Here are some ideas on why you should want it and how to get it.
Feedback as a friend
I recently filled out a fast food survey. They offered me a free sandwich for my participation. Most of the survey was gradient questions, bad-to-best type questions. There were at least thirty questions. It seemed a bit much. I wanted that free sandwich, so I did not balk. It was hard for me to imagine, though, how all that generic information would be of much help.
Have you noticed how many businesses request your feedback after a purchase? Whether on the bottom of a receipt or sent via email, companies understand the value of getting you to evaluate their service or having you fill out a survey of your experience. They see feedback as a friend.
Do you see feedback as a friend? There are different reasons for desiring feedback. Some look for affirmation. The questions are worded to only engage on the surface. Others are looking for appeasement. Feedback is seen as good customer relations. However, there is no intention in acting on the information. Feedback can be valuable if used for the right reason.
Tool for growth
There is only one reason for wanting other’s feedback. We should want to improve. Feedback is a friend, because it has the potential to help us get better. It is a tool for growth. If we are cut off from feedback, we are at a disadvantage. It is always helpful to know what others know.
I have been attending a Toastmasters club. It is an organization to help people improve communication and leadership skills. Everything is evaluated in the meetings. When someone gives a speech, a person comes up afterward to give an evaluation. There is a person that times every person that speaks at the podium and at the end of the meeting gives a report. There is a person designated to listen for grammar mistakes and crutch words, like um and uh, and they give a report at the end of the meeting. There is even a person that evaluates the meeting, how it was run and organized that day. Everything gets evaluated, because people are there to improve.
Open yourself to feedback
Are you creating feedback channels? There are different ways to get feedback depending on what is getting evaluated. Sometimes it is helpful to take an overall survey from participants, such as at the end of a series of classes. Other times, it is helpful to request specific information, such as whether you are over using a particular gesture when you are speaking. It may be best to ask for group feedback in some instances. Other times, it is best to engage one person for their opinion.
I have found when using forms that asking fewer questions, where you get a person’s written answers, is most helpful. I do not ask gradient or closed-ended questions. I don’t want to give them their answers. I want to read their thoughts and impressions. I do not receive as much information, but that’s okay. A person will only take so much time to write out answers. A form with only three questions is more agreeable to a person than even a page full of multiple choice questions.
When was the last time you asked for feedback? If there is an area in your life you want to improve, figure out how you can best elicit feedback. It is one of the best tools for growth.