The Vitality of Feedback

By Jimmy Warden

What is feedback?

Feedback is information that travels through our bodies and minds to influence our decision-making. It gives us information that helps us determine what decisions to make. For example, if we are late to work, our boss might tell us that we’ll be docked pay next time we’re late. That verbal feedback from our boss will likely influence us to not be late to work again. Other forms of verbal feedback could be general conversation, someone critiquing our ability to perform a task, requests to stop saying or doing something, or requests to do something or say something.

Feedback can also come in other physical forms. When we’re lifting a weight, a tool, a household item, or anything else in between, our ability to pick the item up is feedback. If we can pick it up, that feedback informs us we’re able to do so. If we can’t pick it up, we know that feedback informs us we’re unable to do so, even if we made an effort to. Other forms of physical feedback could include pain (or lack thereof), sounds, visual images, tastes, and smells.

Emotional feedback is the information that we receive from our emotions. For example, we have a thought loop, and sometimes physiological responses (lump in throat, pain in stomach or chest) when we feel emotions like regret or sorrow. When it comes to regret, we should pay particularly close attention because it’s sending us a message that we should or should not have done something.

All of these examples of verbal, physical, and emotional feedback influence the decisions we make because we are social creatures who want approval from others and to feel valued by others.

Importance of Feedback

Feedback is so important because we need to know when we’re doing well and when we’re not doing well. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are at risk when we’re not listening to feedback. When we aren’t listening to feedback, we’re consciously, or unconsciously, making mistake after mistake. The more mistakes that we make without correction leads us down paths of regret and inadequacy.

Not the formula for a good life.

We need to know when we’re doing well and not doing well so we can repeat the actions that are bringing positive outcomes into our lives and change the actions that are not bringing us anything positive.

We also need to know when we’re doing something right or not doing something right. Constructive feedback often comes from other sources like teachers or mentors, but this is essential feedback because it will help us understand ourselves better. When we understand ourselves at a higher level, we’re more able to bring valuable change into our lives. When we’re deaf and numb to people’s feedback to us, we’re not just doing them a disservice, we’re doing ourselves a disservice, and that one is even larger.

Not listening to constructive feedback hinders our growth. We need feedback in order to learn from our mistakes and grow as a person.

Challenges of Accepting Constructive Feedback

Accepting feedback can prove to be challenging for a couple of reasons.

1. ) We take constructive feedback personally.
2.) Our feelings get hurt as a result.

When we take constructive feedback personally, we treat the feedback as if we’ve been attacked by the feedback giver. We feel like they’re “taking a shot” at us. We feel like they’re trying to tell us how inadequate we are.

It is this feeling of inadequacy that leads to hurt feelings. Because our inadequacies are highlighted with constructive feedback, our self-esteem tends to take a hit.

However, if we can separate our feelings from feedback, and not take it personally, we can reap its benefits.

Benefits of Feedback

One benefit of feedback is having something to work on. When we receive constructive criticism, we can look at it from a personal development perspective and realize: “Oh, this is something I could work on.” This can help us become a more skilled and well-rounded person.

Another great benefit of feedback is that we learn from it. Feedback either confirms what we’re doing is something that we understand or don’t understand. When we’re doing something the right way, we know we’re on track. When we’re not doing something the right way, we understand we need to change our approach.

The best part about all of this is that we can apply our learning to make positive contributions to the world. We can teach others the lesson we’ve learned from our feedback, that way they don’t make the same mistakes that we did. We can also teach them how to get on the right path sooner than we did.

So think about the feedback in your life. You just might learn something new from it!

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