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Feedback is a Gift, even when it's Criticism!

Be honest, who likes to receive negative feedback, whether it is solicited or not? We like to think that something we have done is as good as we could have achieved in the circumstances we had. Asking for feedback can be a routine, something to tick off as we feel we need to do it. But how do you react when someone gives you feedback that they don’t like what you did or said?


It depends on mindset – are you growth or fixed minded? American Psychologist Carol Dweck has written enormous volumes on the subject, but here is a little summary for you to ponder. Consider this imaginary conversation I made up.


Me: (asking for feedback) Did you like my blog post? (Slightly leading question...)

Friend: I did, but I thought it was a bit long and repetitive. I got the message though.

Me: Really? OK then (quite downhearted, and with a note to self: that’s the last time I ask you!)

Friend: I can see you didn't really want to hear that.

Me: No, not at all. (Thinking: I really didn't want to hear that. I thought my blog was good, but grudgingly, I will edit it before I post it.)


It’s a simple thing. I am operating here with a FIXED mindset. Without saying so, or consciously thinking it, I don’t want to learn. I don’t want to hear another opinion. I don’t want to get better at writing blogs. And if I said that out loud to you, you would wonder why I do it in the first place. Often, we like to think we are the finished article, even when we’re not. It is common at this stage too, to think that we should give up. I am no good at this, after all. Wrong. Others' feedback is a key to improvement, and we might need it when we are coming up short. That happens to everyone from time to time and people who succeed at something usually take many turns to get there. Practice is the key. And we learn and improve from practice. With the fixed mindset, I am closing myself to this - well -gift, and there goes a golden opportunity, if only I could get over myself and take it.


When I am working with a GROWTH mindset, the conversation might have gone like this: -


Me: (asking for feedback) What did you think of my blog post? (open question)

Friend: Good, but a bit long and repetitive. I got the message though.

Me: OK thanks, that’s good to know. Let me look and I will see how I can cut it down. Appreciate the feedback!

Friend: You’re welcome!


This way, I have made the feedback process worthwhile, and not just gone through the motions because I might have felt that is what I should do. With a growth mindset, I am genuinely willing to hear opportunities to improve and to learn. My friend is a reader, I am the writer. My job is to engage my readers, so maybe listening to a few of them isn't such a bad idea. If you have tuned out by now and not reading this, I just give up.


Kidding! I will learn and use a growth mindset rather than a fixed one to improve. Everything we do should be a work in progress, an opportunity to tweak and make incremental improvements. Otherwise, we are blind to the joys of getting better, looking back behind us to see how far we are travelling.






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