Ep98: How to Take (and ignore) Feedback

26 minutes

Feedback can be a tricky thing. If you listen to every opinion that you hear, it’s easy to get lost. But if you ignore valuable input simply because you don’t understand the perspective, you can easily get stuck in a rut. The art of eating the fish and spitting out the bones is a fine one, and it’s worth a discussion.

Why is that important for business?

If you’ve ever led a workshop where feedback forms are handed out to participants, you know very well the frustration of hearing diametrically opposing feedback on the exact same topic. Or it may be obvious that the participants simply cannot perceive their lack of understanding on a topic. (See the Dunning-Kruger Effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect).

Feedback always says way more about person giving it than it does about you. This isn’t to say that you should ignore it, but simply that you cannot gobble down every bite as inarguable truth. Input is simply a piece of a puzzle; sometimes a statistically insignificant piece.

So why even ask for feedback? What’s important about it?

Participant perspective can reveal a larger truth, even if only one person says it. If someone doesn’t understand instructions, for instance, that requires a closer look. But how do you distinguish between opinion and feedback worth considering?

It’s hard to articulate exactly what makes valuable feedback different from the kind that creates a problem where one needn’t exist. You might consider read input like horoscopes – their value is when they either validate something you had a hunch about or reveal something that feels like a blind spot. The blur in the middle is often better ignored unless it achieves critical mass (i.e. a statistically significant number of people comment on it). Of course, you are always risking missing valuable input, but you can’t deal with something if you can’t see it yet.

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