Today marks a year since I started my new role at my very first job. In that time I’ve been blessed to be part of some thought provoking and refreshing conversations, which have made me reflect on my own place in the world.
One of the most challenging ideas I’ve heard is when one of my colleagues said ‘only give feedback to people you care about’. This bubbled up a few thoughts for me. This is about self-preservation as much as it is about genuine concern for the people around you who you love.
Where I have found is that most people don’t know the difference between ‘I know better than you so here is my unsolicited advice’ and ‘I’m concerned for you so think about it’? Feedback, when done properly, comes from a place in our hearts where we want the best for people. But it depends on a mutually respectful relationship between those involved. There is nothing more annoying than being told what to do in a patronising way by someone who has doesn’t have that type of relationship with you.
For example, a person who tells you that you have food in your teeth, or has known you for years and is concerned about your wellbeing, is a good friend. Calling someone fat isn’t feedback, especially a hormonal and emotional teenager who has a disability and can’t exercise much, or any other situation where you don’t understand that person’s journey. Or telling someone that a decision they are making is wrong without knowing anything about the situation.
I will say though, that this really got me thinking about my own framing of feedback, especially because I am rubbish at receiving feedback. Most of the time it is about what people may think, or assumptions based on no background information, or from people who, for some reason, feel it is their place.
When I think about advice I’ve given, witnessed and received, I realise timing and delivery is everything. There is no point in wasting energy on people who don’t want to hear it or in places where it is actually none of your business.
Give feedback and advice to people you care about, but be sincere. It is not about you. Know what you’re talking about, and don’t behave as if you have the wisdom of the world on your shoulders. It is annoying.