People are like fingerprints, no two are alike. Because each person has unique histories, talents, abilities, and behavior traits, we receive, internalize, and react to feedback just as differently. Yet receiving and responding to feedback and coaching is critical if we are to grow, improve, and become better, more well rounded individuals.
This past week I took my family on an extended weekend trip to the lake to get our last summer fun in before school gets underway for the kids and the weather begins to turn cold. As I was leaving my neighborhood in my truck (Bed full of cargo, and boat and trailer in tow), the individual driving a vehicle in front of me decided to make a turn into a supermarket parking lot. This immediately created a problem for me. Not only was the driver not in the turning lane/shoulder of the road, he didn’t put on his turn signal until the very last moment. This chain of events could have caused an accident if I hadn’t proactively hit my breaks and creep into the other lane in an attempt slow my truck and boat in order to avoid crashing into his car.
I was irritated by the situation and offered up some feedback to the driver. In my attempt to slow tons of my steel truck and fiber glass boat, I gave a couple of honks on the horn followed by a quick flick of my heads lights (meaning get out of the way and quick or I will crash into you). What really bothered me was the reaction this guy demonstrated to my warning. He pulled to an immediate stop, and offered some crude hand gestures through his window and proceeded to drive slowly. It was clear he wanted to turn this issue into heated verbal or physical argument by his behavior. I told to my wife “that guy is a jackass.” Not from his driving abilities, but from the way he responded to my feedback. My feedback was not intended to show rage. I did not lay on my horn and start yelling. I gave a couple of honks and a flicker of my headlights telling this guy that his current behavior was going to cause an accident. That’s why cars have horns.
His reaction caused me to evaluate my perceptions of both giving and receiving feedback. I thought about how I would have reacted if I had been honked at. My conclusion is that we all need to be more open to feedback and coaching and not take personal offense to it. In order to grow, and develop we learn from others. If we are to enhance our abilities and expertise, we need to receive feedback, either supportive or corrective.
This is all about reinforcing the positive. When you see someone doing something great and want the behavior to continue, or simply recognizing someone for their work. It is geared to continually improving performance.
This is about changing behavior, performance, and results. It occurs when an improvement or change in needed. It is important to understand that corrective feedback is not negative or abusive in its style, it is only intended to correct the behavior at hand.
While it is important for us who both give and receive feedback to understand these two types, we can hit higher levels of performance if we are a little more open, a little less sensitive (on the receiving end), and ensure our point of view is clearly communicated. Let’s recommit ourselves to the concept of feedback.