Feedback is important. Feedback helps us evaluate where we are and what we’re doing, and most of all, it helps us take a step a way from our own opinion and look back at a situation from a different angle.
If you think about it, we are constantly seeking feedback, though you may not notice it. It’s an integral part of our lives, like it or not, that helps us grow and actualize.
Have you ever asked your roommate what she thinks of your outfit? Do you ever talk to your parents about how you’ve handled a situation, perhaps about making a decision or starting a new project, and look for their reaction? Have you ever gone on a date and then immediately re-grouped with your closest girlfriends?
Consciously or not, we’re constantly seeking opinions of others, which is not always a bad thing. Feedback is important for our own personal development, as well as our development in relationships and careers.
Why is it important, especially in the workplace, to reach out and ask for feedback?
Seeking feedback shows that you are taking the initiative, and that you want to grow. Feedback isn’t always, “great job,” or “keep up the good work!” Sometimes, feedback is more constructive or critical, and that can be hard to hear.
Showing your manager that you are interested in what they have to say, no matter if it is good or bad, lets your manager know that you’re there to work, and to work hard.
What’s even harder is acting upon the feedback to make a difference in what you’re doing or change your mindset/actions. There will be times when your manager or superior tells you something you don’t want to hear.
For example, when I first started working at my current job, my confidence was low, and my peers noticed. My manager and I sat down one day and we talked about how my lack of confidence was affecting my job performance, as well as my happiness at work. I wasn’t confident in my decisions or actions, and I began to doubt myself and I grew anxious about each task I took on because I was worried I would somehow do something wrong. Instead of becoming defensive or brushing off my manager’s feedback by saying something like, “Oh, yeah, I know. I’m working on it. I’ll do better,” I internalized his words and took his opinion to heart.
Then, I asked him, how I could change it or what tips he had. Asking for his opinion helped me realized that I wasn’t being criticized negatively, I was just being given the opportunity to grow and that instilled a spark of confidence itself. My manager, and my peers, wanted to see me succeed, so they took the time to help.
It’s never easy, but stopping what you’re doing and asking for help can be invaluable. If you’re not sure about a decision you’ve made at work, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss what you did, what the outcome was, and how you might have done things differently or better. If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to your manager, or maybe the timing isn’t right, seek out a trusted coworker or mentor who you can bounce your ideas off of.
What happens when the feedback is always negative? Or isn’t given at all?
Generally, people are good. People want to help each other succeed. If you find that you’re being shut down or shut out when you’re asking for help, or if the “help” you’re given is destructive or harmful, take a further step back and analyze the situation.
If you’re in a negative environment that doesn’t foster growth or success, it may be time to give yourself feedback, and being honest with ourselves is hard to do.