Never before in human history has the individual been so inundated with other people’s opinions (OPO). The social media palette of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram encourages us to provide instant thumbs up, thumbs down reactions. We vilify and deify with lightning speed. We instantly receive our friends’ critique of a new pair of shoes, of color swatches, of sushi preparations. We are submerged in a round-the-clock bath of shoot-from-the-hip feedback. Accepting or ignoring OPO in your personal life has little consequence. In fact, it’s desirable. There is something intrinsically American with giving the middle finger to convention; it feels empowering to defy OPO and pursue your own choices.
If you bring this approach to the workplace, however, you are headed for trouble.
But of course, you know that.
And yet, despite this conventional wisdom, the Navigator had observed troubling extremes in how people process workplace feedback with the same knee-jerk reaction as a Twitter exchange. Some reject constructive feedback because, as in a social media environment, there is no reason to take flak when you can simply engage with a group who loves you exactly as you are. Others may resent the feedback they receive because they have donned a cloak of victimhood and assume the criticism is based on bias, politics, jealousy, or incompetence of the feedback provider. Those who adopt this mindset prematurely, before vetting the feedback, lose the opportunity to fix their career hindrances; an accomplishment that can only occur when you utilize uncomfortable feedback throughout your working life. It is the hard work of making numerous adjustments to your performance based on explicit and implicit feedback that separates the mediocre from the exceptional.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who act on every suggestion without considering its source, like a nimble waiter anxious to please. Their lack of personal conviction and insecurity contorts them into a pretzel by attempts at self-improvement in contradictory and futile ways.
How can you achieve the middle ground and discern between helpful and harmful feedback? What do you do when the feedback seems contradictory, or comes from an incompetent boss, or appears to be based on ulterior motives?
Continue reading to learn a how to discern useful feedback from nonsense.When to Use or Ignore Workplace Feedback