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The Power of Giving and Embracing Feedback

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Facebook live video. I was talking about the various elections (in Canada and US) and how we can learn the importance of key messaging from the candidates. Who is clear on their message (you know exactly what they stand for)? And who throws out the usual comments like cutting taxes, getting spending under control, and making bureaucrats accountable (without any substance)?

After that video was posted, I ran into a friend. She mentioned the video, saying she agrees that being consistent and clear on messaging sets apart strong candidates from the weak.

And then she awkwardly said — can I give you some feedback? My first thought — well it would be weird if I said no. My second thought — absolutely as it’s the only way I will improve and grow.

I told her yes, please be completely honest and I welcome all feedback.

She took a deep breathe (as obviously giving a friend feedback was uncomfortable) and said, I loved everything you said in your video but I was distracted by your arm. It was obvious you were holding the camera yourself and as the video went on, your arm began to shake a bit as it was getting tired. At that point I started tuning out your message and instead thought about ways you could improve the video just by using a selfie stick or tripod. I had to watch the video again (which most people won’t do), to listen to your entire talk. But I still found myself getting distracted.

She went on to say I needed to get a selfie stick or tripod before I recorded my next live video. And to practice using it a few times first so I am comfortable and it becomes an extension of my arm or I have the tripod set up just right.

When she was done giving feedback she took another deep breathe, let out a huge sigh and pushed her chair back, never taking her eyes off of me. I think she was afraid the feedback would offend me (which made me think, is that the normal reaction to feedback?)

I took a second to think about what she had said, the video I had done, and how her advice would help future videos. And then I warmly thanked her for respecting me enough to take the time to critique my video and give me feedback. How many other people had watched the video and had similar thoughts? Yet she was the only one who stepped out of her comfort zone and shared her insights.

How many times have you given or received feedback from friends? How did the experience feel? Was the feedback received with gratitude or with anger? If it came from a genuine place of helping, I expect it was positively received.

I encourage you to embrace feedback to improve your skills — as we need to know the tweaks that need to be made to grow. And don’t shy away from giving your friends feedback. If you truly want what’s best for them, it includes giving the honest and direct feedback.

Over the next week I encourage you to ask for feedback from a friend on a project you are working on or skill you are trying to develop. Be clear on the ask — what is working well, what areas do I need to improve on? And then proactively give constructive feedback to a friend. But make sure to ask first (and ideally choose a friend who you know is looking to grow and would welcome your insights).

If you found this advice helpful, I’d love for you to sign up to receive more free advice from me.

And I’m always open to your feedback, so send me a note .

Writer, communications professional, speaker and patient advocate. Visit www.howtocommunications.com for free communications tools to help share your stories.

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