Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feedback



Feedback is such a double edge sword... We want it, we ask for it, but can we take it?  I will be the first to admit that when I get feedback whether from a supervisor, a colleague, a staff member, a parent, or student it initially hurts.  Every single time it hurts, every single time.  Think about that, every single time.  Never have I gotten feedback and I did not have to pause, even if just for a half a second.  To make it worse, even if it is not grounded in any sort of logical reasoning, it still hurts.  Let's put that out there and own that.


It is like getting a shot from your doctor, you know the initial prick is going to be uncomfortable.  The power and what separates real growth from those that say they want to grow, is in your ability to take that initial prick and realize it is actually good for you.  Maybe even thank the doctor on the way out of the office.  I read the book Thanks for the Feedback about a year ago with an outstanding group of educators on voxer, where we still touch base from time to time.


We realized quickly that the book was not about giving, but receiving feedback.  That is what you own, that is the power.  I realized that I can not control how feedback is given to me, I can only control how I take it and then try to get clarification to better understand how I can use it.  Some is thrown away, but more often than not, a piece or whole chunks can be taken and used to better myself professionally, personally, or whatever.


To me the most powerful and real feedback is based on a common real life experience or moment in time and then talking through that face to face with another person.  It is taking that interpersonal connection and making it intrapersonal.  It is the process of "listening" and then modifying self that moves you.  For me it happens in waves, I can be saturated with feedback and at times will ignore or miss things because I am still processing, but I understand that, and try to limit that when possible. This is also not a perfect science, that I don't feel I will ever master, because of attaching emotion every time.  I have thought of a framework or steps when getting feedback.  I do the following:

  • Listen
  • Question for clarification
  • Sometimes restate in my own words, this can be through talking or internal thinking.
  • These 3 steps are then repeated enough until I have a clear idea, all can occur in minutes, I am not talking days here.
  • I then take time to reformulate or figure out how to apply to practice.  Then I practice, practice and practice until it becomes habit if that is what is needed. 
Now, not all feedback goes through these stages, some things are much simpler.  For example; "You need to stand still when delivering directions to a group of people."  That was feedback I got and immediately agreed, that went straight to practice mode.  No need to clarify that, I agreed, saw myself in action, and still am trying to perfect that.

I want to attach this definition or explanation to social media for a minute, let's be real....

Do you really want feedback?
Do you really want to talk about a thought or situation?
Or do you really want to be told, "great job..."?

On social media let's be honest, you probably don't want real feedback.  Not the type of feedback that challenges your thoughts, motivation, outlook.  There is that belief that the person giving the feedback, does not know me, what do they know anyways.  Sure "what if you changed your format", or "used a different word or font", are forms of feedback, but what does that really do but add to a never ending stream of noise.  It can be helpful, but I would not call it feedback.

So the next time I hear from someone on social media about wanting feedback or to push each other in a way that creates contention, I pause and think, "Is this worth my time and energy?'  Just reconfirming after reconfirming or saying the same thing with a different clich' does nothing for me equal getting feedback.  It can certainly make me feel good, which has it's purpose, and is important, but again not feedback in my definition.

Pushing each other in brainstorming an idea is also totally different and I don't want to come off that this process is applied here, because it isn't.  Maybe a later blog?

Again I come back to my experience with people on social media who ask for feedback.  You really just want to be confirmed in your message and told "good job" or "that is so powerful!".  This is just in many instances noise.  There is a lot of peacocking or "pushing out the chest".  Then when your feathers are ruffled you run, leave, or just stop talking.  Because of that, this is not receiving feedback.

So I take my social media PLN for what it is, a wealth of knowledge a crockpot of ideas and thoughts to pull from.  But except for very few people and/or situations I know that social media at this point is not to get "real feedback" or to give "real feedback."  Most just aren't ready or don't want that.  Does not mean I will not continue to try, I am stubborn.  

I want to speak briefly to two types of feedback to further break this idea apart.  Receiving feedback and having real dialogue are not safe.  Being safe does not help growth.

Type 1:

I have been in an ongoing feedback cycle about many things education related for some time with an individual.  Our views on so many things could not be more different.  We have had to resort to back channels, because it gets quite heated.  All that being said, I so value seeing a new message or post come up and reading and then discussing their views.  It pushes me, because it forces me to redefine my stance and deliver it again in a different way.  I am NEVER going to change this person's opinions, NEVER... But that is okay, going back and forth has enabled me to sharpen my thoughts, feelings, and vision.  It provides me a much needed avenue of feedback. That is one type of feedback.  I respect that person although we don't agree.



Type 2:

I also get feedback from people that I generally agree with in many areas.  Probably 95% of my PLN are defined in this way.  But when there is that moment where the train runs off the track and contention happens I pause a minute.  I have to take emotion out, take the prick, and apply my process.

What do you mean you don't agree with me?
What do you mean I could think or do something better?
We almost always agree... What is going on here?

After the initial shock is over, the general rule of thumb is that growth will occur.  I take to some extent their thoughts and either make improvements or change my thinking.  I don't run away and/or shut down and continue to do things or think the same way I had before.  I respect their opinion and adjust if needed.


Whether in face to face situations or social media, do you have the confidence to accept feedback?   Don't run, tell your points, what is the down side? Really nothing,

For my face to face feedback I look forward to continuing these interactions all the time.  It is good for us and is a must to continue to improve.

For my social media encounters.  I am not your boss, I am not your father, I am not even, in many cases in your same state...  So relax, engage, and let's see if we can really use social media to improve in giving and receiving feedback.

If you can not have or are not willing to have these conversations, then don't put your message out there.  I have been wrong so many times, and have had to change my feelings on so many things from feedback I have gotten.  The words, "I need or want feedback to grow" should not be thrown around like a cliche'.  Either you want it or you don't, figure out what side of the track you are on.  Own it or get out of the way and don't ask for it, whether implied or directly.  Feedback is real and needs to be honored.  Don't treat it like a throw away statement or hide behind it.  

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