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Keep Your Feedback, Give Me Your Reaction Then Attention

People don't want feedback. They want attention. But you already know it from research data and your own experience, whether you have been given feedback or provided one.

We dread feedback. Why? Because we misunderstood the definition and made it about our opinion of the person's performance. The definition of feedback is "information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task" and not "my opinion about one's presentation, behaviour or actions that need to be taken."

If you look at feedback, it is a very useful tool because it makes us socially acceptable. You are given millions of feedback the moment you are born that shapes your behaviour, thinking, and even belief. Without these feedbacks, were would either be dead or a social outcast. So what do they look like?

When you talked back to your parents, they gave you a look, so you immediately knew it was a no no. When you stand too close to a person on the bus, the person looks at you and steps away, signalling that it is not ok, so next time, you will remember that. When somebody in the office is trying to gossip about another person, but you are not that type, you don't react and further the conversation. The person quickly realises that you are the wrong person.

What do we see in those examples in common? Yes, that's right. They are all about the person's reaction to the deed, which is the definition of feedback. That is why we can receive them even if we disagree with them. It is about the other person's reaction to what we did and not about his or her opinion.

So if you attend my presentation and fall asleep, you can tell me, "Look, I dosed off during the presentation". That's a fact and a reaction to what happened. But it gives the person who delivered the presentation an opportunity to ask questions and ask why it was not engaging for that particular person. What we do instead is "To make it more engaging, you should have made it less wordy or incorporated some interaction". That's your opinion, not a fact. In addition, other people might have enjoyed the presentation as it was.

Remember, you are not the source of truth about others. You are the source of truth about your reaction to something.

Now that we have clarified what feedback is about, here is a great read that will make you rethink feedback and move away from it entirely! Let me give you a teaser:

Managers will never produce excellent performance by identifying what they think is a failure and telling people how to correct it.

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