Why do we fear feedback? Why fear it if it can help us?
The answer is that many people don’t distinguish between feedback and criticism. Even if we add the qualifier “constructive,” criticism just makes us cringe. The thing is, they aren’t the same thing.
Psychology Today lays out some helpful ways to tell the difference. According to Steven Stosny “criticism focuses on what’s wrong… feedback focuses on how to improve; criticism devalues… feedback encourages; criticism implies blame… feedback focuses on the future; criticism attempts control… feedback respects autonomy.”
When the two are considered interchangeable then you will have a tendency to avoid feedback as if it was criticism. The problem with that is that feedback plays a crucial role in getting better whether that’s you or your team or your organization.
Agile people seek out feedback. They understand that testing their hypothesis is the only way to know if their assumptions were correct. Am I loosing weight requires a scale. Are we getting the waste out of a business process requires metrics. Am I getting better at my job requires thick enough skin to seek out honest feedback from your boss or coworker.
There’s no doubt that it can be hard to find out if your choices were right or wrong, but isn’t it better to find out that you’re making the wrong decision as soon as possible? That way you can make quick pivots with minimal investment in something that’s taking you in the wrong direction. Or to put it more positively, set yourself up to get where you want to go embracing feedback.