Question—have you ever tossed your annual review in the trash, without reading it, within seconds of it landing in your hands?
I have…twice actually. I can explain…but a little later.
As a society, we have become so fixated on the idea of receiving feedback, or the practice of someone offering their opinion about another person, based on performance. And feedback channels seem to be popping up everywhere that they are beginning to go unnoticed. From electronic bracelets that track our footsteps to smartphones that monitor the rhythm of our heart, feedback is the new norm.
And we’re not safe at work either. As a matter of fact, we are even more prone to receiving feedback in our careers than ever before. Just ask someone in their 50’s if they ever had this many performance reviews, check-ins, touch-bases, VOC surveys, 360 reviews, follow-ups, MBRs, QBRs, postmortems and whatever other buzzword created to mean one thing and one thing only—feedback.
Yet there’s something missing from the feedback equation. That is—feedback avoidance.
Even when I googled “avoid feedback,” the entire first page of results referenced avoiding noise feedback in audio equipment. Clearly, avoiding another person’s feedback is not a very popular concept.
I have come to find that most people are not qualified to express their opinion of you. I will admit that it sounds a bit arrogant for me to make that claim. However, the honest truth is that—feedback from unqualified sources will likely cause you to examine yourself for flaws that aren’t there or may not be significant enough to warrant a change (all humans have something).
Avoid feedback from these 3 people:
1. The Outsider – Where possible, make it a priority to understand as much about a person’s life experiences before accepting feedback from them. Otherwise, you can end up being a victim of someone’s limited perspective simply because they cannot relate with your views.For instance, I once received feedback from a trusted colleague who, for good reason in his mind, discouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship endeavors. Now on the surface it sounds like honest advice from a friend who is only trying to help. Until you find out that he experienced tremendous financial strain as child due to his father’s failed entrepreneurial pursuits. Now under the context of that childhood experience, it makes perfect sense that he would be antagonistic to the idea of someone he cared about creating start-up. The good news is that I recognized his bias, ignored his feedback and went on to profitably run a marketing agency.
Quick sidebar: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you should only seek feedback from like-minded individuals. Having someone who understands you while opposing your idea is totally different than someone who just doesn’t get you. The goal is to avoid feedback from someone who clearly would not understand you or your perspective.
2. The Hater – (because we all have them) I beg you to please make sure that the person you get feedback from has virtually nothing to gain or lose by providing you honest and constructive feedback. Otherwise, you may find yourself doubting your abilities because of the negative opinion of someone who does not have your best interest in mind. The hardest part though, is uncovering this before you have already received feedback from this person. More often than not, you will get burned once before you actually find out their true intentions (only fools get burned twice right?).
The “Dragon Lady” story: I once had a boss (more like, animal) that capitalized on every opportunity to criticize me for any error I made, regardless of how small it was. The problem, as I eventually discovered, was not that I was bad at my job but that I was good, too good. It was not until the big boss (her boss) revealed to me that I was doing such a great job that in the very near future I could eventually get promoted to be on the same level as my direct boss. Before that revelation, her negativity almost had me thinking that I was a step away from being fired. However, jealousy and fear provoked my boss to disparage me, at times publicly, in hopes crushing my ambition and stopping my ascent. Nevertheless, my positive thinking prevailed and I employed my most impenetrable defense mechanism yet—feedback avoidance in which, I completely ignored any and all feedback she provided, no exceptions.
Now about those two annual reviews…
Although positive (confirmed by my payout), upon reviewing the bonus payout portion, I immediately crumbled and tossed my review into the trashcan to ensure that I never read the written portion, which was her assessment (or feedback) of my annual performance.
Extreme?…maybe. Necessary?…heck yeah! Frankly, it was the only way to ensure that I did not go back to doubting my wonderful, God-given talents as a result of a bona fide hater.
3. The Grouch – We all know them. This is the one that will find any reason to complain about anything. Free lunch day at work—he will be the one complaining about the quality of the silverware while at the same time, helping himself to ginormous portions of the free lasagna. I will keep this one really simple—stay away from this person…even beyond getting feedback. Why would you waste your time with someone who is always negative about life? Bad company corrupts good character so do yourself a favor and avoid their feedback and if possible, avoid spending extensive time with them. Why (as if you still need to be convinced)? Because every minute you spend (waste) with them, is one less minute that could be well spent with someone else or doing something that enriches your life.
Constructive feedback = a good thing:
Constructive feedback is usually a life-changing event that I admittedly need more of. However, ignoring, and where possible, avoiding feedback from those that are unqualified is a strategy that has helped me reach, and continue to reach, amazing heights in my life. You should try it.
So I will leave you with a charge; if you ever suffered from the feedback of an unqualified source, and you do not mind sharing that experience, please leave a comment below. I am no expert—I just did what I felt necessary to maintain a healthy spiritual, mental and emotional lifestyle. So go ahead, help someone by sharing your experience.