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4 minute read

Feedback: Why You Should Ask for It

Feedback is an important tool that makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses, extending opportunities for areas you can improve or capitalise on. Learn about the different types of feedback that can help you develop in your career, and how they can impact your career success.

Feedback is essential for one’s professional growth and development. Before Alex Berger became one of Hollywood’s successful television writers, he worked hard and even took gigs that didn’t pay well so that he could learn the basics of what makes a good and standout script. Besides such deliberate practice, he aggressively sought feedback on his early drafts from veterans in the industry – that gave him leverage, and soon, people started to notice his work.

Different Types of Feedback

Appreciation, guidance & encouragement feedback

Such words can serve as a form of motivation to individuals that ensure their hard work is recognised. It is an avenue to provide suggestions for improvements, and should be specific and personal instead of a generic “well done“. When overused, it can become meaningless.

Informal & formal feedback

Informal feedback involves providing spontaneous comments about your performance at any point in time, whereas the latter happens within more formal settings like appraisals or performance reviews.

Forward feedback

This brings up issues and mistakes that need fixing and improving. It provides more precise context and is catered to a specific individual, hence cultivating behaviours that help them make improvements strategically.

Negative feedback

This can be a double-edged sword – while it might be beneficial, it can also do significant damage if wrongly communicated. According to renowned psychologist William Swann, when humans receive comments that conflict with our self-image, we “suffer the severe disorientation and psychological anarchy that occurs when (we) recognise that (our) very existence is threatened.”

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Why are we afraid of feedback?

Feedback is often misunderstood as we tend to fear that it will hurt us more than the benefits it could possibly offer. To counter this, learn to phrase your questions accurately when soliciting feedback to obtain more constructive responses.

For instance, instead of asking an ambiguous question like, “Can you give me feedback on this project?” try, “Can you show me what I could have done better in this section?” Being precise makes it easier for you and the person you’re asking to draw out specific feedback that you will be able to work on.

Five reasons why feedback helps you grow and succeed

1. It keeps you accountable

Asking for and receiving feedback lets you know if your work is on track towards the goal(s) you have set for yourself. It creates a sense of awareness and accountability towards others as you relate your work to them; it also helps you take ownership of the task and focus better.

2. It helps avoid mistakes

While some lessons may be learned from mistakes, you can avoid careless mistakes by asking for feedback. Tap into the collective wisdom of those around you, learn from their experience, and leverage these insights as tools for continuous improvement and long-term success.

3. It motivates you

Asking for feedback motivates you to work harder as you are more cognisant of what you excel in and what you can do better. When others take the time to provide feedback, they value and appreciate your work. Moreover, asking what others think shows humility and a willingness to learn and grow.

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4. It overcomes creative blockage 

People often get stuck when faced with a complex problem or challenge. Asking for comments is an excellent way to gather new ideas and perspectives from others. Such feedback can be sought from those who have been in similar situations before, or a colleague whose problem-solving skills inspire you. Remember to keep your questions precise – instead of asking, “How do I solve this problem? I keep getting stuck.” try, “What tools and resources can I use to make my workflow more manageable?”

5. It overcomes irrational fear

Studies show that most people feel afraid to ask for input; it induces negativity and dampens their self-esteem. However, asking for opinions is the first step to overcoming irrational fears. Understand that you are seeking honest input for the sake of growing and doing better. Be open and listen to others’ advice before jumping to conclusions; being defensive diminishes your desire to ask further and might deter people from being fully honest with you.

The drawbacks of feedback

There may be some limitations to asking for feedback, such as receiving conflicting inputs from various sources, or feedback that lacks accuracy and objectivity due to the influence of personal agendas. Not all feedback might be valuable, so exercise discretion and approach reliable sources when seeking and accepting the opinions of others.

This article is contributed by Good Job Creations.

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