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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Don’t fear feedback – embrace it!

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

laptop computer open to screen with feedback survey

Have you ever stuck your neck out to apply for a highly sought-after position, or to participate in an event such as speaking at a conference, or to receive an honor or award?

You feel qualified, and yet, you aren’t sure. Will I get picked? You wait.

Finally, the letter or email you have been anticipating arrives. Opening it makes you nervous. You close your eyes and hesitate before cracking one eye to read the first line.

Did I get accepted? Or rejected?

If the letter opens with “congratulations,” you feel validated and appreciated. Happy dance! If instead the first line tells you how hard it was for them to select the “winner” and thanks you for applying, you hang your head and feel rejected and dejected. As humans, we have a strong need to be accepted.

It is for this reason we also shy away from asking for evaluation and feedback. We fear rejection. We fear we won’t measure up. We fear others will identify our shortcomings. We fear not being liked.

Rather than fear receiving feedback, I propose we embrace it. In fact, I suggest that we solicit it even when it’s not required. I believe that the most successful professionals are those who not only welcome feedback, they ask for it.

How do you ask for feedback?

  • If you are a writer, have a group of trusted colleagues who will honestly and constructively review your writing. Pilot test materials with potential audience members and incorporate the feedback you receive.

  • If you are a speaker, provide audiences with evaluations to complete after your presentations. Ask for verbal feedback as well. Better yet, practice for others before you perform.

  • If you are on social media, provide followers with surveys, polls, and invitations to comment on your posts.

  • Even in more informal settings, such as when you’re in a conversation with a friend, family member, or colleague and you get a puzzled expression after something you said; be willing to ask, “Am I making sense? Do I need to rephrase that?”

Ask for and embrace input and evaluation from start to finish.

As a nutrition communicator, avoid creating anything without input from others throughout the process. Evaluation and feedback should be ongoing from the conception of an idea to its completion. It may feel scary, but it’s invaluable.

I will admit, each time I receive a review of a chapter I’ve written, I take a deep breath and brace myself for the worst. Why? Because I know there will be negative comments. There will be LOTS of track changes. Even though there are also positive comments, they seem so few and far between.

What I’ve learned in this process of receiving feedback is this… When feedback feels negative recognize that you are being given the gift of an alternative point of view. Don’t get defensive.

As appropriate, ask for additional input for greater detail and clarification. Consider all of the suggestions and comments, even if you disagree with them.

Feedback makes our work better.

After taking time to carefully consider the feedback, it’s time to use it. As much as possible, make changes that retain the original integrity of your work while acknowledging the other perspective.

Your work can improve greatly as a result of critical feedback. Take a deep breath when it is given and accept it with grace. When feedback is accepted and allowed to lead to positive changes, your work will be noticeably improved.

Feedback provides a wealth of perspectives that will result in greater appeal to a wider audience. It is relatively easy to please yourself. Feedback helps you create work that will please your audience. Feedback helps you grow.

Solicit, receive, and give feedback well.

When requesting feedback, provide a means to collect thoughts and observations that makes it easy for the evaluator to respond and provides you with the specific feedback you need and desire.

When asked to give feedback, be generous and provide as much or as little as you have the time, interest, and expertise to provide.

Point out strengths as well as areas for improvement. In fact, begin with the strengths. It will improve the receiver’s acceptance of your suggestions for improvement.

Be specific in your examples. Be constructive and provide ideas for ways to enhance the work. Above all, state your feedback with honesty, kindness, and respect.

Don’t fear giving or receiving feedback – ask for it, welcome it, use it!

“Value those who give you constructive criticism, because without them doing so, you will never reach the peak of what you are or do.” ― Unarine Ramaru

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