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Feedback would happen all of the time if… we doggedly pursue a false path

This post was crafted in response to the blog carnival being hosted by Helen Amery. You can read more about it here or by checking out #FeedbackCarnival on Twitter.

Feedback would happen all of the time if… we doggedly pursue a false path

I get a bit sparked about discussions on feedback.

Not because what is being spoken is nonsense. Not because meaningful feedback doesn’t have value. Not because we shouldn’t try to understand ourselves and each other better. Not because we shouldn’t try to keep improving in some way shape or form.

I get a bit sparked because our discussions about feedback aren’t making enough of a difference to how we relate to each other. We’re treating feedback as the data that is needed rather than the human insight that comes from experiencing each other and sharing that experience.

We are focussing on a part of the process not the whole interaction.

As a consequence, we’ll talk to each other in organisational, educational or perhaps even sporting contexts about what others could do better. Far, far less so will we talk about what we appreciate in others, how we value them (not put a value on them), their signature strengths… In fact, to create meaningful feedback on what is appreciated in such settings more often than not requires an intervention of sorts.  Whereas anything critical is more easily a part of our business as usual conversations, whether it is actual, implied or imagined.

It’s all narrow output focussed without care for the input. It’s mechanistic. It’s benchmarked against others expectations or standards not of our own making. It ignores what it means to relate well & meaningfully to each other.

This thing we often call feedback is more akin to “needback”. This “needback” conveys only our skewed view of apparent unfulfilled needs. What we think needs to be better in others. It’s lost in judgemental thinking. It lacks useful balance.

It’s just not who we really are. It’s just what we’ve allowed ourselves to perpetuate and manifest within organisations.

To doggedly pursue that path further would be to fail further.

Instead, I believe what we truly want is to foster an environment where meaningful feedback happens freely but with care and respect.

Isn’t that what you want to create?

If you do then you will need to…

…Invest time in those relationships that matter.

…Stop getting lost in judgemental thoughts.

…Vocally recognise and value the strengths and humanity of others.

…Question how you can be useful to others, in the moment.

…Abandon any thoughts of giving feedback all of the time.

Instead you will need to aim for…

…Freedom to speak your truths freely, knowing you could be wrong.

…Removing the barriers to better interactions, knowing that could take time.

…Creating greater trust between people, knowing that you will have to trust first.

…Being kind, insightful and useful, knowing that will be a constant challenge.

…Being the brilliantly flawed human that you are, knowing that you can be nothing else.

It’s a big ask perhaps. The alternative is to keep with the mechanistic and unsatisfactory feedback process we’ve artificially created.

I’m not sure you really have a choice, do you?


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