Random Conversations

The Gift of Random Feedback

The Gift of Random Feedback

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When is feedback a gift? When it allows us to see ourselves in a new and powerful way.

The word feedback has become charged with angst – especially in work environments where there are prescribed times requiring participation in a formal performance management process. Receiving good news is welcome, but constructive comments can prompt some to go into a tailspin.

But what is feedback?

Feedback is a sharing of our perspective. A mentor of mine once said that all feedback is true – it’s a perspective that is true to the giver. It may be an outlier view, or it may be the view of many, but it’s important to understand that a truth is being shared.

Perspective is based on a series of observations and impressions – whether a quick first impression or a series of observations over time. So, wouldn’t it be helpful to know how we are perceived? I think so.

My Recent Experience

As I stood outside a neighborhood restaurant waiting for my takeout order, I noticed a man standing to the side as he put his name on the waitlist for a table. As things often go, we started to chat.

He had just arrived from California and his hotel recommended this restaurant. He asked a question or two as we talked. I then suggested a few of my favorite neighborhood spots for him to explore, if they were of interest – additional restaurants, the farmers market, wonderful walks.

After several minutes, he paused and stated two observations about me. The first was that I clearly love living in my neighborhood. (Very true.) The second was deeper and more thoughtful. He smiled, looked me in the eye and said he could see that I was a happy person. (Also true.)

Having my happy nature called out was nice, but the real gift was in seeing myself, unbidden, through the eyes of another. These were not just any eyes, they were filtered with a positive focus – a true gift to receive.

A Work Example

Having the luxury of spending time together allows for deeper observations to be made. Last October, while wrapping up our work, a client asked,

“May I give you some feedback?”

My heart sank and I felt a pang in the pit of my stomach. I thought everything had gone well, and people do not ask for permission when they have good things to say – except this person.

He proceeded to wax lyrical about what I did and how I did it, sharing specific examples along with the effect they had on others. I was so touched by his comments and his willingness to share them with me. His validation of my work held up a powerful mirror, and I can still feel the positive impact of seeing that reflection.

Moving Forward

Much has been written about giving and receiving effective feedback, which I believe to be both an art and a science.

My intent here is to encourage the practice of gifting others with positive feedback.

This may be a comment on a job well done, a kind word that touched you deeply, or one of many points of appreciation between you and another. The receiver might be someone you know well or someone you do not know at all.

There’s no need to ask permission. Open your heart, and share what you feel. The possibilities are endless. You just might find that it initiates an expansive, joyous conversation – a generous gift to both the giver and receiver. Who wouldn’t want more of that?!

Photo by Africa Studio on Adobe Stock.

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

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