The Worst Way to Give Feedback to Anyone

As we go about our daily lives, sometimes it is necessary to give feedback to people we interact with. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feedback as the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source.

In our interpersonal interactions with people daily we observe and make judgements and by human nature, we are more inclined to criticize and condemn than to understand and acquit.

one star review - feedback

I was recently interacting with a close friend and in the process of trying to give me feedback, the person went about it in a critical way, and succeeded in achieving the opposite effect. It takes a grown-up person to accept feedback and grow from it, but it takes a caring and loving person to give the kind of feedback that inspires and motivate the other person to learn and grow.

Criticism is the worst way to give feedback to anyone. Praise is the best way to give feedback to everyone. Find what is commendable, and expand so much on it that it urges the person to do more of what has been done well, and less of what was not acknowledged. I am not advocating for ignoring what is not being done well. Use the pareto principle: “80 % of our results come from 20% of our efforts.” In this case, mention what was not done well or what could be improved at about 20% of your total time, and spend the rest 80% of the time to praise and encourage the person on whatever positive (regardless of how minuscule) observations you could make.

Next time you are to give feedback, critique or condemn someone, hold you tongue and reflect on the most impactful way to do it. Praise always goes further than criticism.

Who’s watching your blind spots?

During my graduate school days I once developed the habit of exercising (few push ups and jumping jacks) throughout the day. I was having class in the evening at school and sometimes I would go straight from work to school. The exercise was mild, and I did not usually break a sweat since it was just designed to keep blood flowing through me and prevent me from getting too stiff staring a the computer screen the whole day. Since the exercise was mild, I didn’t ever feel the need to take a shower or freshen up before getting to school from work. 

I never realized how stinky I was until one day a close friend approached me, drew me to a corner and said:
Friend: Lionnel may I tell you something?
Me: Yes, go ahead.
Friend: Are you coming from the gym?
Me: No. Why?
Friend: It’s as if you forgot to take a shower. You stink.
Me: Is it that bad?
Friend: I could perceive it so what do you think?
Me: Thank you for letting me know. Now I don’t feel like going up to class anymore.
Friend: Don’t worry, let’s go to class. Just make sure you don’t hug anyone else and you take a shower next time.

I could not smell my own stinkyness. That was a blind spot. Something I was too close too to realize it could be a problem to others around me. I felt horrible when I realized I was so stinky that the smell was a nuisance to others around me. At the same time I felt grateful that there was someone who cared enough about me to draw my attention to something I was responsible for that was not good for me and for those around me.

None of us are perfect beings, and in our imperfection, we all need someone around us to watch our blind spots for us. And to care enough to let us know when there are things we might be doing that are potentially detrimental to us. It could be anyone from the circle of people we associate with: friends, family, colleagues and even acquaintances.

Who is watching your blind spots?

The Biggest Waste of Energy in Your Life

Among the host of negative emotions that drain our energy is one that you would do well to become aware of and drain out of your life. As I was listening to an audio recording of Earl Nightingale this morning, he reminded me that if we could see all our “problems” in their true light, we would not be blinded by them. That’s the biggest waste of energy in our lives, worry. 

A worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems. The keys in that definition are “actual” or “potential.” Are you anxious or uncertain about something that already happened or something that you are afraid will happen. If it has not yet happened, why consider its possibility? If it has already happened, should you be worried about something you can do something about? No, because you can just go ahead and do what you can do about it. Should you be worried about something you can do nothing about? No, because there is nothing you can do about it anyway.

As per Earl Nightingale’s account, of all the things we worry about: 

  • 40% never happen.
  • 30% are over or in the past and nothing can be done about it anyway.
  • 12% are about our state of health (hypochondriacal).
  • 10% are just petty and needless worries.
  • 8% are legitimate concerns we can do something about.

A whopping 92% of all our worries are complete waste of energy. Of 10 thoughts or concerns we have, just about 1 is justifiable. How do you find out that 1 out of the 10? You assume the best always, and for the thing that really might be frightening, put them in perspective. How do you put things and situation in perspective?

You ask yourself the following questions in that order:

  • Is this something that should have my full attention? If yes, why?
  • Will this matter situation matter in a few hours, days, weeks, or years?
  • What can I do (if anything) to change this situation?
  • If I can’t do anything or I choose to do nothing, what are the consequences I have to face and am I okay with that?

Worrying makes everything look worse than it is. Put things in perspective. Face all the unpleasant or difficult situations that present themselves in your life with grace and serenity. Always believe that ultimately, things will workout to your advantage, and they will.

What’s worse than being off-track?

One of the authors who have had a great impact on my growth is Brian Tracy. I have read in his books quite a few times that a plane is off course over 90 percent of the time. But planes reach their destinations close to 100% of the time. 

Planes are incredible pieces of engineering, so are human beings. Every plane before take off goes through a series of tests to ensure its integrity and guarantee the safety of all the passengers on board. All planes leaving an airport have a clear destination. Virtually nobody would accept to board a plane if they didn’t know exactly where the plane would end up.

Just like planes we all must have a destination at any single moment of our life experience. Our destination will always determine our direction, and as a corollary, our direction determines our destination. One of the greatest tragedies of life is that most people don’t have a destination, or are not clear enough about it.

The only thing worse than being off-track, is not having a track to run on. Having a track to run on is knowing where you are headed with your life, and that determines what choices you make on a daily basis. Just like I have heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say quite a few times through his books and audio programs: “We are the sum total of the choices and decisions we make every single day, every single moment.” 

That means to improve the quality of our lives, we must improve the quality of our choices. To improve the quality of our choices, we must improve how much clarity we have about our destination. To improve how much clarity we have about our destination, we must accept the fact that being off-track does not mean we are off-course. Course correction is part of the course.

Keep your eyes on the prize, on your destination. At the same time, enjoy the detours life sometimes imposes us. Keep making course corrections and stay on-track, no matter how off-track it might sometimes seem you are.