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  • Common Mistakes When Asking For Feedback

    - Iuliana Urechi
  •  "The biggest problem with communication is the persistent assumption that communication has taken place." - interpr. William H. Whyte

    Communication takes many forms and is so common in our world that it's easy to assume we do it efficiently. That cannot be further from the truth. From the perspective of a User Experience and Psychology specialist, here are the most damaging mistakes in giving or receiving feedback.

    1. Not having a clear end goal in mind

    You're always running, your mind is looking to the future and thinking about what to do next. That's why when asking for feedback, you just want to get it over with and move on. Instead of saying, "I just want to get this over with, can you approve so I can move on?" you say, "Here it is. What do you think?" A dangerous approach that breeds misunderstandings and leads to frustration. Be prepared to spend hours of your time listening to unwanted, useless feedback and be frustrated.

    This is the most important thing you must do, before taking action. Before asking for feedback STOP! Stop what you're doing and thinking. Sit down, calm down and listen to your own feelings. What do you really want to get out of the exchange? Imagine the answer you want to get most - is it praise, is it detailed explanations, or what someone else feels when they look at your work? Have a clear end goal in mind. Everything else is built around it.

    2. Not taking your feelings in to account

    Your current state of mind is everything, when it comes to interpretation. If you're frustrated, angry, tired, feel underappreciated or need approval, feedback can be deadly. You get a lukewarm answer. You knew it! You are not appreciated! This is just further proof of your suspicions and feelings. You leave deflated and your whole day is ruined. The other person meanwhile feels satisfied that he made an effort to help you even though he was busy.

    While you're sitting and working on your goal, take a deep breath and do a self-check. How are you feeling? Take a few minutes to clear your mind, think of a pleasant experience. When you initiate a conversation, you must be calm and your mind clear. Focus on the goal and ignore doubt and fear. Your mind is a page to write the feedback on - make sure it's clear and ready for the information you are seeking to gain.

    3. Being shy

    Sometimes, you have to get feedback from people you feel strong feelings for. Admiration, appreciation, respect or fear stand in your way. Without knowing it, you're handicapping yourself even before a single word has left your mouth. You make sure to be nice, respectful and considerate. You don't want to waste anyone's time. Phrases like "She's very busy.", "He doesn't have time." and "This is not the best moment", flash through your mind. When everything is said and done, you sit down, go through your feedback and realize it creates more questions than it answers. You're now stuck with useless information, you're anxious to ask for more and you feel guilty. This situation must never exist!

    No matter what feeling influences you, get the most out of your time. When you have a clear goal and you are prepared for feedback, you must pursue it. Act and don't stop until you have what you need. Imagine yourself as an insurance salesperson or call center worker. They never give up until they have what they need. Is the person you're trying to talk to busy? Ask to schedule time, set reminders for you and them. Remember, the worst thing you can do, is not ask for feedback and work in the dark. So set your goal and pursue it.

    4. Asking the wrong people

    We lie to ourselves all the time. It's unpleasant to realize and hard to admit. We also gravitate towards people who validate our lies. Who wants to ask the "critic" of the team when there are people who support you? You have a group you trust and everyone outside that circle, well, they're just plain wrong. Are you seeking advice from people who have no expertise on the topic? Is it because they are easy to impress, or you want to feel inclusive? Gather your self-esteem and admit to yourself the reason why you are seeking the right feedback from the wrong people.

    Again, it all comes down to your GOAL. It is the most crucial pillar of your actions. Use it to center yourself. When you have a clear goal, all you have to do is consider who can help you on the way to reaching it. You won't ask a "critic" for moral support. You won't ask your moral support group for criticism. You won't ask a person from the other department for expert knowledge on your topic. It seems obvious, but are you implementing it in practice? Double-check your goals and actions, otherwise you're wasting your time.


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