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"No one quits their gym membership because they are buff! There is always more inside of us to explore, manage, and share as sources of hope and love for others."

18 December
2020

Good Feedback versus Bad Feedback

Wading through the s**t in order to get the golden nuggets!

I am a man on a journey. I have an extensive professional life as a clinical and forensic psychologist. But the next leg on the journey involves my work as an author, life coach, and blogger.

So I recently read Michael Hyatt’s excellent book, Platform: Get Noticed in a NoisyWorld. Hyatt references various well known bloggers, podcasters, authors, and coaches. I then visited many of these people’s websites and blogs. I saw some great work. I was impressed. But I also came away with the realization - I can do this. Why not me. I can. I will. So I signed up for the newsletter of one of Hyatt’s suggested big timers, John Doe.

I was mentioning my above aspiration to a friend. His well intended response was, “sure, BUT remember they got in early”. What I heard was a message of lack of faith in my ability. Did I own that message? No. Did I push the comment aside and retain a mindset of ‘I can’? Yes.

Then the next day I received John’s newsletter and read his courageous articulations of how he has been “clinically depressed” for the last three years and earlier this year was struggling economically to the point of experiencing challenges to just pay his mortgage and basic bills.

So much for getting in early!

This whole episode makes me ponder what makes feedback worth listening to?

When is Feedback S**t?

  1. Feedback that is a projection of another person’s anxiety or ‘stuff”. In other words when their feedback says more about their fears and issues. I had an acquaintance thirty years ago who was your stereotypical accountant: methodical, careful, slow. His feedback to me. I needed to learn how to talk slower.
  2. Feedback that is true but makes assumptions that may not be accurate. When I was sixteen years-old I received a speeding ticket in the first year of having my driver’s license. As a result, the local police had a policy of hauling young drivers in my situation into the police station along with one of their parents. The police officer gave me a stern lecture about my need to slow down. His pressure point was that, if I continued to drive fast, get speeding tickets, and then later in life attempt to become a police officer, that my driving record could make it impossible to have any kind of law-enforcement related career. He was right about needing to slow down but his assumption was that a career in law-enforcement was a motivational issue.
  3. Feedback that leaves you feeling dejected because it doesn’t open up any door for correction? Years ago I applied into a particular graduate program and was turned down. The faculty member told me I didn’t have the “right tenor”. He refused to provide any clarification.
  4. Feedback that is just wrong. I had a clinical supervisor in my doctoral internship review a psychological evaluation that I had written. He spent several minutes talking to me about how I had wrongly used the plural word “beers” in the report versus “beer”. I made the change in the document and only this week learned that he was wrong. Makes me wonder how many other things in life I have inappropriately changed because I believed someone’s feedback.
  5. Feedback that is just plain negativity. I recently told a family friend that I wrote a book this year and was in the process of getting it published. In response all this person offered was a long, rambling diatribe of how a person in their church was self-publishing various books and had asked him to read one of the books. He let me know that the book was filled with grammatical errors and was poorly written. Mr. Positivity convinced me that he had little respect for the art of book writing.

When is Feedback Golden?

  1. Feedback that is positive. I had a mentor many years ago that was reviewing my forensic evaluations as I was learning how to evaluate people for the court system. His feedback was, “You have a real knack for this”. That still resonates and empowers.
  2. Feedback that is replicated by multiple people has more value. Multiple physicians, multiple family members, and a few friends told me that I needed to lose weight. Hmm, maybe all those people are onto something.

Freebie thought for the road: If you know the person dislikes you then disregard their feedback.

Joe DeBruin