Perfection is rarely achieved. The fact of the matter is that everyone can and should strive to always be better. One of the reasons that Michael Jordan was such a great basketball player was that he worked hard to constantly get better. Receiving feedback from others is one of the best ways to improve. However, getting feedback is only part of the equation. Evaluating feedback is a crucial skill that many people overlook.
- First, evaluating feedback can only be done when you know the desired result and you ask for the feedback. If the desired result is not clear, it is hard to evaluate feedback because the direction of the feedback will be very inconsistent. However, that in itself could be great feedback that the audience was not clear on the desired result.
- Second, consider the source when evaluating feedback. If the source is a friend, family member, or subordinate, then the feedback will most likely be softer than you need to make meaningful improvement. Your feedback evaluation may require asking many probing follow up questions to get helpful information. Also, consider the environment when evaluating feedback. Many a presenter has gotten negative feedback that was due to external reasons. For example, if an audience is forced to attend a presentation that they do not want to attend, the feedback may be overly harsh, making feedback evaluation difficult.
- Third, do not be afraid to question feedback. When evaluating feedback, discussing the reasoning behind the comments can be the most enlightening aspect of the task. By asking for specific examples and suggestions for how to perform better, the feedback evaluation can take on an incredibly constructive tone. If discussing the comments with the individual is not possible, this can still be a valuable tool. Evaluate feedback by asking yourself why the comment was made. This honest evaluation and self-questioning can lead to epiphanies that you never thought were possible.
- Lastly, always evaluate feedback with positive intent. Very few people will provide feedback with the intent to cause harm. The audience, whether that be 1 person or 1,000 people, know you are trying to do your best and sincerely appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback. When evaluating this feedback, remember that it is meant as a way for you to do better next time.
In the end, feedback evaluation is critical to growth. Without feedback to evaluate, you can never be sure you are reaching your goal in the most effective and efficient manner.