What feedback has taught me about the other

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Being an Executive Coach, I use a lot of feedback to help Client discover facets of herself: feedback is received from Peers, Family, her manager, a wider network and direct reports. In addition, I have used psychometric tools, my favourite being Hogan and EUM.

Is feedback about the Client only?

Every frame of reference is from within. In the ultimate analysis, our brains are wired for that which rewards or that which punishes: the pleasure seeking impulse drives our action (See David Rock’s work). Buddha asked us to observe our own thoughts: that which we found ourselves ‘attracted to’ or those we were ‘repulsed’ from. In short, liking or disliking is fundamental to our nature. True bliss lies in equanimity.

If then every frame of reference is personal to the observer, then as J. Krishnamurthy, avers, the observer is the observed itself. We describe others with filters, around lenses we ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. Someone would appear confident or cocky, someone slow and deliberate, while others may view this as tentative and unsure. There is no ultimate reality: only facets of that reality.

Through years of receiving feedback or working with people giving feedback I have learnt, that when one gives feedback to another, one is also providing feedback on the feedback giver itself. It points out to his/ her valuation process. What is it that the feedback values most: in its presence and in its absence.

Reflect back on feedback you received from your boss for instance or a critical stakeholder. Do you recognise that much of the feedback is from his/her lens of what is important for them to see more of/less of. We all have a perceptual canvas, from which we see. Or when you provide feedback to your direct report are you not sharing what matters to you most. Don’t get me wrong: the feedback is about YOU, but it does reveal the interface that would now be required to improve the quality of engagement. Once you recognise this phenomena, you will be able to understand people much better around you. And to cater to their specific needs to improve that engagement.

Feedback is then more about knowing others, rather than just knowing about you.  In every comment, there is the said, then the unsaid, and the edited. Are you aware of all three? To every question you are asked, the questioner has already a favoured answer: are you aware of what that is.

Feedback is from expectation from the other: either met or unmet. Expectations always fall short. As long as there is expectation disappointment will follow. As truly, as how Sunrise follows Sunset. Feedback comes from a notion, a phantasy, an imagined. It is only with acceptance that expectations drop. Feedback is about, what is it, that I want to see as an image that I agree with, expect. And from you. Drop expectation, Accept.

Right from birth, we have received feedback, most of it, non-verbally. From the way we were picked up at birth, held, offered gifts and responded to. We unconsciously picked these cues and adhered. What we are, seemed not to matter: what mattered is what was acceptable in us. That lesson we learnt quickly and since then we have adapted. And we have been adapting ever since.

We have learnt to distrust: the advice, ‘Be Yourself.’ Instead, we have created a persona: a special mask for each occasion. Think about this the next time you receive or give feedback: Who is it about?

Does this resonate with your own experience? Do comment, even with a few words. Like or Share.

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