The Gift of Feedback

To begin with, it was a usual day for everyone else. However, for me, it was a day I was looking forward to. I was excited and nervous and flustered all at the same time. I was going to be on a very important client call today alongside my manager. This was the day I had to prove my mettle. My manager logged in and started the call. All the pleasantries exchanged, we were all set. All of a sudden, everything was quiet. I wondered what happened. I looked at my manager perplexed and he looked at me equally perplexed. Now the people on the other side of the video call looked at us with a blank stare for a full minute which to me felt like an eternity. It was then that I realised that everyone was waiting for me to speak since I was the lead of the project!

I started of course with an apology and made a silly joke of my mind taking a pause. Everyone else took it in a stride. We all spoke on the agenda; points were discussed and action items assigned. A few interjections and clarifications later, something clearly wasn’t right: whenever I spoke, it was like my words were falling to the ground. Dust balls span through the air after each comment. I felt a little embarrassed. “Why did it feel like I was walking through treacle?” Soon, the show was over. I left the call puzzled and highly disappointed with myself. For some reason – I felt like I died a thousand deaths in those precious 30 minutes. After the call was over, my manager turned to me and asked,” How did you think the conversation went?” I said, It could have been better, but I can’t be sure. What do you think of the conversation?” I braced myself for some stern lashing out. Well, he started with a few positive points and then said.” It felt choppy constantly.” Perfectly said. His feedback was spot on. I knew exactly what he meant. The point was simple – I was terrible since I could not hold the conversation. I was hesitant and it showed itself unabashedly. 

The key words above are” I braced myself” – Are we too afraid to ask for feedback?

High-quality feedback is critical to higher standards of performance. But in my experience, we’re either too afraid to ask for feedback and just not great at giving it if we give it at all. We hardly offer any positive feedback. Why would you risk putting yourself out there, when you know all you will get are unhelpful suggestions termed as ‘constructive feedback.’

In my next post, I will speak on how to seek and receive feedback. Until then, there’s a question I would like you all to think of: Have you considered simply asking your team/ employees how they like to receive feedback?


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