Feedback: Why you should ask for it

Feedback is critical to one’s professional growth and development. It raises awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, extending opportunities for areas you can improve or capitalise on. Learn the differences and see how it impacts your ability to succeed.

Before Alex Berger became one of Hollywood’s successful television writers, he understood it was a winner-take-all industry. He also knew that the quality of his writing was his only bet to impress a tiny group of buyers. He worked hard and often took gigs that didn’t pay well so that he could learn the basics of what makes a good and standout script. Aside from deliberate practice, he aggressively sought feedback on his early drafts from experienced people around him in the same industry. “I thought I needed more samples to get to work” because his main goal was to write for national TV, and that gave him leverage, and soon people noticed his work.

The Different Types of Feedback:

Appreciation, guidance & encouragement feedback

Words of appreciation, guidance, and encouragement are a form of motivation and recognition to encourage individuals and ensure their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. It allows suggestions for improvements and a chance to ask questions. Evaluations like this should be specific and personal instead of a generic “well done”. When overused, it becomes meaningless.

Informal & formal feedback

This method offers spontaneous comments providing clear ideas of your performance throughout the year, whereas the latter happens within more formal settings like performance reviews.

Forward feedback

This brings up issues and mistakes that need fixing and improving; it provides more precise context and has individuals toward it, cultivating behaviours that help them advance strategically.

Negative feedback

Negative input from others can be a double-edged sword–it can be beneficial, but it can do significant damage if wrongly communicated. In a corporate setting. Renowned psychologist William Swann put it 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.”

Feedback is often misunderstood because the ones who ask for it fear it will do more than correct it. To counter this, learning to phrase your questions accurately can help you get the response that you desire and build upon.

For example, instead of asking, “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.

Feedback can bring out different kinds of emotions. Depending on the feedback receive, one will experience a turmoil of emotions.

Five reasons why feedback helps you grow and succeed:

1. It keeps you accountable.

Asking and receiving feedback lets you know if your work is on track and is heading toward the goal you set for yourself. It creates a sense of self-awareness and accountability towards others as you relate your work to them; it helps you take ownership of it and focus better.

2. It helps avoid mistakes.

Although some of the biggest lessons are best learned from mistakes, you can avoid careless mistakes when asking. Tap into the collective wisdom of those around you, learn from their experience and insights, and watch it become a tool for continuous improvement and long-term success.

3. It motivates you.

Asking for feedback motivates you to push yourself to thrive continuously because you’re made aware of what you excel in and what you can improve. When others take the time to provide them, they value and appreciate the work done. Moreover, asking what others think shows a willingness to learn, grow and improve.

4. It overcomes creative blockage.

Often, people get stuck with no plan to progress, especially when faced with a complex problem or challenge they need help to overcome. Asking for comments is an excellent way to gather new ideas and outlooks from others. Whether asking those in similar situations before or perhaps a third party whose problem-solving skills inspire you to keep you going. Instead of asking someone, “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.

Research has shown that most people fear when asking for input; it induces negativity and dampens their self-esteem. However, asking for opinions is the first step to overcoming irrational fears. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it exists. The idea is to clarify that you seek honest input to help you grow and what you can do better. Listen before jumping to conclusions; being defensive diminishes your desire to ask further, and people might not be honest with you.

I want to point out some limitations to asking for feedback, such as receiving conflicting input from multiple sources where not all of them might be valuable. Additionally, feedback may not always be accurate or objective and may be influenced by personal bias or agenda. Exercise utmost discretion even when seeking and accepting the opinions of others.

Written by Destiny Goh
Marketing Communications Executive