The black and white of feedback

Feedback is an important aspect to life. It contributes to our personal and emotional development and allows us to see things from a different perspective.

The other night my mum suggested that sometimes I rely too heavily on people’s feedback, which I thought was a bit harsh and not entirely true.

Sure, it’s great to hear when you are doing well or how you could improve, but it is also likely that you will already have some kind of an idea of what the response will be. You’re either doing well, or you’re not. It seems pretty black and white.

Receiving feedback can be tricky. And you can show your true strength with your reaction.

If the answer is positive, you might nod your head and ask about other areas you can develop. If the answer is not so good, it is the perfect time to ask why.

Use the answer to develop your attitude, your skill set, your humour, whatever it is that has been constructively criticised.

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be and if you let feedback get to you, it may be harmful, if not only to your self-worth, which is actually a pretty important thing.

Imagine going to work every day, sitting opposite your boss and not talking because she suggested you work on your sentence structure when writing reports and you disagreed. Or maybe she suggested that you introduce yourself to external clients in a different way.

How is not asking for more information benefiting you?

Make an effort to understand where these concerns are coming from. You can even give her some feedback of your own if that’s what you need to do!

But maybe you didn’t even ask for the feedback you received. Maybe your friend told you that you were terrible at keeping in touch and that she wasn’t going to even bother anymore. Hopefully you get better at contacting each other and in the meantime, your emotional intelligence is under some pretty extreme development.

The hardest part about receiving feedback can be accepting it. But this is where you can prove people wrong and demonstrate exactly why you aren’t what whoever thinks.

Who really cares though?

We all have it in our human nature to care about what other people think to a certain degree but if you know you are doing the best you can, just keep on doing that and others will learn that you are not going to react.

They will realise that this is who you are and that you’re not going to change because of something that someone else says.

Feedback should be used constructively but there is no need to depend on it, even if you are trying to improve.

As soon as you feel comfortable and proud of what you are doing, you shouldn’t let other people get in the way to tell you otherwise. And if they do; it will be quite obvious to you and everyone around you that they are wrong.

The little things

The little things in life are often what makes us happiest.

Offering your train seat to someone in need, watching your dog run around for no apparent reason, reading a friendly comment on your blog post or learning something new from an article you read online.

None of these things are immediately life changing, but each of them involves another creature’s happiness. It is our interactions that make us smile, feel special and give us something to look forward to.

Last week on the train to work I gave up my seat to a woman who asked for it. I got up out of my seat straight away and she thanked me. She was older than me but didn’t look as though she desperately needed a seat, but what do I know? I watched as she took out her phone to play a game and wondered if she actually needed the seat or just wanted to play her game in comfort. Either way, I felt good about myself. Maybe a little bit cheated, but I knew I had done the right thing.

A pet brings a special feeling of joy to life. You have a special companion to come home to each day; someone who will listen to you without offering advice; someone whose mood may be lifted by something as simple as being let inside when it’s cold. Owners and their animals share a unique bond; a relationship of inspiration and encouragement.

Now I may sound a bit biased, but my dog is the best. I just watched him as he ran around our front yard, wagging his tail with his tongue flapping about simply because he felt like it. Or maybe he thought I was going to chase him. When I didn’t chase him, he didn’t mind, just went about sniffing the rose bushes and foraging in the mulch. Whenever we get the chance to take him to the beach, we run with him along the sand and he genuinely looks like he is having the best time in his life. His excitement is contagious.

It is always uplifting to receive a (positive) response to something you’ve done. Feedback is what keeps us going, keeps us energised and reminds us of why we do what we do. It propels us to excel and drives us achieve. Even negative feedback can be good, if taken constructively and used to shape future decisions or actions. If we don’t know what we are doing wrong, how are we supposed to improve?

I love reading, writing and thinking. Each day I am excited to learn what people are reading and writing about. I like to see what opinions are out there, so I scroll through my feeds and click on anything of interest (this usually takes some time). I like to see what people are doing with their blogs, what the latest ideas are, finding out who the next young entrepreneur is and reading all about their success. Reading is (obviously) engaging and allows us to view things from a different perspective.

I began by classifying these as ‘little things’ but now I’m not so sure that I would classify them as ‘little’. These actions and emotions are part of everyday life and should not be underestimated. To remain happy; to remain satisfied; it is important that we recognise the cause of our happiness, to ensure that we keep doing whatever it is that we are doing.

So, tell me, what are the little things in your life?