Feedback – growth or self-validation tool? 

Do you know that person that always has something to say about every topic you may start?

Do you notice that at a conversation with friends, at a picnic, or at a family gathering, you have around some people that know everything?

Or … maybe you are one of those people?

I think everywhere we go, we find such a person.

Has it happened to you that someone always wants your well-being, no matter what? Why do they want to give you their opinion?

Do they really want to help you, or are they doing it out of their own need?

As an NLP neurolinguistic programming coach, I recently had a client who had someone around who kept giving their own opinion, claiming that they were giving feedback. 

I told him that this term comes from the business field, and lately, it is used almost daily. Unfortunately, some people still need to learn how to use this tool, and this is where a lot of confusion comes from.

I’m describing here what I told that client because I’ve heard some other people facing the same challenge.

Paul Watzlawick, a well-known communication researcher and psychotherapist, said that we are communicating at any given moment and, in fact, it is impossible not to communicate. 

Everyone has a self-image, and everyone has images of others. In this particular case, we use feedback to check our self-image. What is always true is that self-image and external image are rarely the same. 

In addition, we are all in certain relationships with each other. Through open feedback, hidden things become transparent, and the desires or needs behind certain behaviors can be addressed. This creates familiarity, trust, and closeness. 

The more openly and honestly people tell each other how they perceive each other, the better they can check their self-image and adjust it if necessary. 

Let me tell you a little about the feedback process:

1. Feedback is of two kinds: solicited or unsolicited.

Few people know that giving unsolicited feedback is perceived by others as aggression. When offered unsolicited, it is actually a need for self-validation of the giver: “I am superior in a way, and I will show you the way things go because you don’t know.”

2. Another criterion is intention. Do you know what you really want to measure? Are you clear about what you want to know?

If you want feedback, do you want the other person’s opinion because you need confirmation about something you did or you really want to improve? 

Have you done something you are not 100% comfortable with and need someone else’s opinion to confirm what you have done? 

If this is not your case and you want feedback to improve something, you must be clear about what you want to know.

For example, you want to speak in front of a group of people. You want to improve your speech, and in the future, you want to know what you need to work on. To do this, you ask third parties for their opinion. 

In this case, you should know what you want to know as clearly as possible. For example, you can ask for an opinion on the introduction, the words you used in the presentation, the topics, fluency of speech, tone of voice, and interaction with the group.

It would be extremely helpful if feedback is requested before the event so that the people observing are as attentive as possible to what you want to monitor.

Here’s how the feedback process should be done to be as optimal as possible:

When giving feedback, you should consider the following:

  • Feedback should be given immediately. The longer you delay feedback, the more likely you will leave out important details. 
  • To avoid vague language, use as many descriptive elements as possible. Expressions like incredible, fantastic, and extraordinary should be avoided.
  • Feedback should come from your own experience.
  • Avoid generalizations and be as attentive as possible to the request. 
  • Stay on topic. If you have been asked to notice a certain thing, give a concrete answer.
  • Refrain from making evaluations and using expressions such as best, best, worst, and disaster.

On the other hand, receiving feedback is only sometimes comfortable. But if you understand that the feedback you receive is a gift, a chance to grow, you can already say you have taken the most significant step.

  • Listen quietly and be aware that other people’s perception of the requested experience is always subjective.
  • Avoid defensiveness and justifications: feedback is a gift you can accept in whole or part.

Now that you’ve come this far, you know that whether the feedback is conscious or unconscious, spontaneous or solicited, in words or body language, feedback is a gift and shows the differences between your perception of yourself and others. It’s up to you for what purpose you use this information.

In the end, can you reread the post and give me some feedback on the clarity of the information and the message? What did you find the most useful? Just write me!