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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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04/02/11
Working with feedback.
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 10:59 am

Throughout our careers we are likely to be the donors
and the receivers of feedback. 

Boy, is it hard to provide constructive feedback without
having the receiver feel that it is criticism.

Despite all of my best efforts, I experience that although
people show and submit things to me for feedback, they
feel stung by it and consider it criticism.

Let’s put feedback into perspective.  Bo Bennett phrased it
nicely as containing three elements
  Donor motives:  what is the feedback donor’s motivation
  Idea merit:  how do you measure the feedback’s value
  Receivers response:  What do you do both with the idea
                        and in communicating with the donor

The response we offer to feedback is often more telling
and revealing of our person and character than the idea
merit or the donor motive.

Confident, forward moving, improvement seeking people
accept feedback and find ways to act on it.  Even if you
do not agree with feedback, a thoughtful sign is to clearly
understand the idea and show appreciation to the donor.
It is a continual life lesson to train your mind to be open
to feedback.

Following comments on:
  Three elements of feedback
  Approaches to accept feedback on writing and documents

2 Responses to “Working with feedback.”

  1. site admin Says:


    As Bo Bennett writes in his blog, there seems to be
    a fine line between feedback and criticism. To frame
    the issue in his mind he dissects the interaction between
    the feedback donor and the feedback receiver into three
    elements and elaborates them nicely.

    Briefly,
    Donor motivation
    - Concerned for one’s own interest. People have different
    tastes and preferences. Some critics will comment based
    on their own personal preferences.
    - Concerned for mutual interest. This is the most common
    form of commentary given by customers and employees.
    Changes will be made that will better their situation and
    the company/individual.
    - Concerned for receiver’s best interest. Feedback made by
    teachers, mentors, parents, loved ones, or good friends is
    usually done with your best interest in mind. This is
    important to realize because it is this group of “critics” that
    are usually the most resented for their feedback.
    - Out of jealousy. When others are jealous of your work,
    they will criticize with the intent of damaging your self-esteem.
    - Out of anger or frustration. Often when someone gets
    frustrated they misdirect their frustration. Idea merit

    Clarify and understand the goal of the communication
    and evaluate the idea from the perspectives of each stake
    holder.

    Feedback response
    A measured, proactive response sensing the motivation
    and value produces the best results. If, on the other hand,
    there is a negative reaction it far outweighs any other
    element. It can be negative.

  2. site admin Says:


    Response to feedback for actions, writing or presentation
    (for example) should recognize that it is a valuable element
    to your team’s (company, or other group) and your personal
    success.

    It is important to value the opinion of others and change
    your actions, writing or presentation based on good feedback.
    When your feedback is direct, your strongest response is not
    to react harshly. Successful professionals thank feedback
    donors for their considerations and ideas and, if you choose
    to accept the feedback, distinguish how you plan to use them.

    1. Read the comments with an open mind. Don’t look at
    feedback as being negative. Learn to understand feedback.
    Negative feedback is better than not having any at all.

    2. Avoid anger and push aside your ego. Apply the comments
    to repair your writing. Even though you may not agree with
    the comments, assess which techniques are reliable in shaping
    your writing (or actions).

    3. Trust comments from established writers or experienced
    professors. Make it a point to revise your work.

    4. Train your mind to accept feedback. Every writer needs it to
    improve the quality in their work. No writer is immune to
    mistakes. Allow feedback to fuel your ideas, making them
    into creative projects. Accepting feedback requires psychological
    conditioning. Understand the importance and use feedback to
    improve project.

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