Time for a business wake-up call?
- By C L Haden -
- Feb 28, 2012
We all like to turn negatives into positives, but how is this best achieved? Here’s a guest blog on how to make the most of negative feedback…
There’s no such thing as bad feedback…
It sounds rather clichéd doesn’t it? I will admit that I’ve always been the one sitting up front on the feedback bus holding a flag that said ‘follow us you must’ As a product of a coaching family, they’ve always taught me the value and use of feedback. In the past I’ve had negative feedback but usually it’s for something I’ve not been fussed about doing. Then I went and found something I really loved and was very good at and up until a month ago – I’d never had any negative feedback.
Was it time for a wakeup call?
Last month I gained a new contract and my first assignment that I was given was something I knew like the back of my knuckle. There was not much planning or researching required and I submitted it earlier than my deadline; thankfully they were extremely happy with it and so was I. Then I was given my second topic, I was a little apprehensive at first as the subject was one that I knew nothing about. Still, I thought that if I paid close attention to the notes given by my client and I did some intensive researching I’d be OK. Sadly that’s not how it went. I struggled to interpret my notes, my research wasn’t turning out to be that reliable and I could slowly feel my creativity dwindling. After obsessing over how bad it was I submitted it.
It was no surprise that I received negative feedback – I was wounded, and I thought I’d been far too arrogant in my previous thinking and started to entertain the idea that perhaps I couldn’t be good at everything. Like a lot of people, our first reaction when criticised is to look at external reasons i.e. other people instead of looking internally i.e. you.
After my mini temper tantrum I decided to sit down and ask myself three questions:
1) What are the reasons I received this negative feedback?
2) Is my client’s feedback any different to what I would have said?
3) Can I turn this negative feedback into a productive out come?
My answers to the first two questions are as follows:
I began to think that perhaps my lack of knowledge, planning, preparing, and my sheer sense of panic and not to mention struggling to interpret my client’s notes, had been the reason I’d received this response. I can now see that if I would have asked for some clarification on the notes, and allowed enough time for extra research and drafts, and listened to my gut instinct before I’d sent it over – the outcome would’ve been a positive one. Nine times out of 10 I’ve noticed that the feedback I receive on a project is only a reflection of how I feel. So with that in mind, I would have given myself the same feedback as my client.
To answer my third question I would say: As Kenneth Blanchard says “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” and he’s right …. If you look at ‘negative’ feedback and use it to help you improve and deliver your work to the best standard that you can; is it really negative after all? No.
And thanks to my new client, I’ve learnt this. Scrap constructive criticism and turn it into constructive correction. To quote a Chinese proverb, a gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.
By C L Haden.
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