Feedback is good for everybody because it largely helps motivate us to take action, possibly in a better direction than before.

Asking for feedback and responding to feedback are two important areas to help improve your job performance, develop lasting relationships, and achieve meaningful personal growth. You may want to think of feedback as valuable information to help you make these improvements.

Every day we have an opportunity to ask for advice or feedback of some kind. The questions presented below along with a feedback exercise at the end, can help you get on the right track of asking for feedback on a regular basis.

Are you better off asking for feedback than not at all?

Many of us are afraid to ask for feedback because we’re afraid of what we might hear. Would you be better off knowing the truth?

Consider the following common examples why you are better off asking for feedback.

Feedback for your business

Your customer is ordering products from a competitor. Aha! Instead of wondering why, would it be more advantageous to ask what they really want?

Let’s suppose your competitor offered a better price and you wouldn’t know that until your customer tells you. Asking for that kind of feedback from your customer may be critical to your business. And now you’re in a better position to make improvements in your price strategy and hopefully win back your customer’s business.

Feedback in your relationship

Is it hard to ask for feedback from your spouse or partner? Many of us have difficulty receiving feedback.

Don’t limit yourself by saying, ‘I want you to accept me for who I am’. Of course you are you and your partner loves you for who you are, but maybe there are areas you can improve to help make your relationship better. Try having a heart talk with your partner. To learn more about it, see Why Have a Heart Talk?

Feedback for your personal growth

You receive a performance review from your boss and are terribly upset. Unfortunately, many companies wait to give feedback once or twice a year in a performance review. Would it make more sense to receive feedback from your boss or peers when it would make a difference to you?

For example, your boss says you talk too much in team meetings and don’t let others speak. Well, if meetings were run like that all year, and you only receive feedback in a performance review, it surely would make a difference to know right up front so you can have better collaboration in team meetings.

If you’re stuck on how to go about changing your performance, see One Goal Setting Question Will Change Your Performance.

Next, we’ll explore utilizing feedback to its full advantage. Because many of us have received hard-hitting feedback, perhaps it was negative or the timing was bad, many people believe feedback of any kind is harmful.

Is negative feedback really all that bad?

Negative feedback stings! We avoid the pain by not asking for feedback. Here are a couple of typical examples.

Let’s suppose you were starting a business and had decided to invest in a franchise. You asked a local banker for a sizable loan, however, the loan officer denies your request due to lack of borrowing history. Ouch!

Instead of seeing the bank’s loan denial as negative, this external feedback is important for starting your business. Consider taking the initiative to ask the loan officer for his or her assistance in establishing credit, like obtaining a smaller loan and paying it off.

Also, give yourself credit for taking action on your goal of starting a business! One of the principles of success that I teach as a Certified Canfield Success Trainer, is using feedback to your advantage. How you respond to feedback can make a difference in how successful you are at achieving your goals.

How important is timing in receiving feedback?

At the moment feedback is needed, ask for feedback. The timing of feedback may be just as important as asking for feedback. In school, if you sat in class and had no homework assignments in which to receive regular feedback on your progress, you’d only get feedback on a final grade. Our formative years are an important lesson on the timing of feedback.

According to author Susan M. Brookhart in her book, How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students demonstrates there are feedback strategies. As we focus here on timing to illustrate its use for adults, the purpose of giving immediate or slightly delayed feedback is to help the person hear it and use it.

Feedback needs to come while you are still mindful of the performance in question. Let’s consider an example of learning a new skill at work. If you are learning new software, do you think it is important to start with a template?

In an example using project management software where you had to produce a project status report, as a manager you would want to have a specific and measurable report. Try giving your team a template of what you expect from them. Don’t wait for someone to fail and that would obviously be linked to lack of guidance or support. When your team succeeds, you succeed.

Getting in the habit of asking for feedback can put you in the mindset to be ready to receive valuable feedback in achieving your goals. Utilize the following feedback exercise to ask for feedback on a weekly or monthly basis.

Feedback Exercise

Ask the following questions in business or personal relationships.

On a scale of 1-10, what has been your experience with our relationship, service, or product, over this past week or month?

What positive thing did I do to get that rating?

Anything less than a 10 gets this follow-up question. What would it take to make it a 10?