Use Feedback to Your Advantage

As you begin to take actions toward your goals, your dreams, you’ll soon realize that not every action will be perfect.

Not every action will produce the desired result.

Not every action will work.

Making mistakes, getting it almost right, and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right.

Thomas Edison is reported to have tried over 2,000 different experiments that failed before he finally got the light bulb to work. He once told a reporter that, from his perspective, he had never failed at all. Inventing the light bulb was just a 2,000-step process. If you can adopt that attitude, then you can be free to take an action, notice what result you get, and then adjust your next actions based on the feedback you have received.

There Are Two Kinds of Feedback

There are two kinds of feedback you might encounter – negative and positive. We tend to prefer the positive – that is, results, money, praise, promotion, raise, awards, happiness, inner-peace, etc. It feels better. It tells us we are on course and doing the right thing.

We tend not to like negative feedback – lack of results, little or no money, criticism, poor evaluations, complaints, unhappiness, inner conflict, pain, etc.

However, there is as much useful data in negative feedback as there is in positive feedback. It tells us that we are off course, headed in the wrong direction, doing the wrong thing. This is priceless information!

In fact, it’s so valuable that one of the most useful projects you could undertake is to change how you respond to negative feedback. I like to refer to negative feedback as information for “improvement opportunities.”

Ways of Responding to Feedback that Don’t Work

Though there are many ways you can respond to feedback, some responses simply don’t work.

  • Caving in and quitting:
    How many times have you or someone you know received negative feedback and simply caved in over it? All that this does is keep you stuck in the same place. It’s easier not to cave in if you remember that feedback is simply information. Think of it as “correctional guidance” instead of criticism.
  • Getting mad at the source of the feedback:
    Think about it… How many times have you reacted with anger and hostility toward someone who was giving you feedback and it was genuinely useful? It may temporarily make you feel better to get angry, but it doesn’t help you become more successful in your quest.
  • Ignoring the feedback:
    We all know that people who turn down everyone’s point of view but their own. The sad thing is, feedback could significantly transform their lives, if only they would listen.

Ask for Feedback

Most people will not voluntarily give you feedback. They are as uncomfortable with possible confrontation as you are. So to get honest and open feedback, you need to ask for it and make it safe for the person to give it to you. In other words, don’t shoot the messenger!

The Most Valuable Question You May Ever Learn

In the 1980s, a multimillionaire businessman taught me a question that radically changed the quality of my life. This magical question can improve the quality of every relationship you are in, every product you produce, every service you deliver, every meeting you conduct, every class you teach and every transaction you enter into. Here it is:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of our relationship (service/product) during the last week (month/semester/quarter)?”

Here are a number of variations on the same question that have served me well over the years…

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the meeting we just had? … me as a manager? … me as a parent? …this class? …this meal? …my cooking? …our sex life? …this deal? …this book?

Any answer less than a 10 always gets this follow-up question:

“What would it take to make it a 10?”

This is where the really valuable information comes from. Knowing that a person is dissatisfied is not enough. Knowing in detail what will satisfy them gives you the information you need to do whatever it takes to create a winning product, service, relationship or result.

Is All Feedback Accurate?

Not all feedback is useful or accurate. You must consider the source. Some feedback is polluted by the psychological distortions of the person giving you the feedback. For example, if your drunk husband tells you, “You are a no-good bleep,” that is probably not accurate or useful feedback. However, the fact that your husband is drunk and angry, is feedback you should listen to.

Remember, feedback is simply information. You don’t have to take it personally. Just welcome it and use it. The most intelligent response is to say “Thank you for your feedback. Thank you for caring enough to tell me what you see and how you feel. I appreciate it.”

Look for patterns in the feedback you get, too. As my friend Jack Rosenblum likes to say: “If one person tells you you’re a horse, they’re crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy a foot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle!”

About the Author: Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

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