I’m just about to finish a 12 week semester of teaching architecture and design.

And, with the end of every teaching contract comes review and feedback – for both students and teachers.

If it goes your way feedback is great, and reinforces the work you’ve been doing, but what happens if you receive BAD feedback?

Opportunity For Feedback

Teaching is the first “professional” environment I’ve ever really had the opportunity to experience two-way feedback.

In my experience, the corporate world often seems to put their head in the sand about feedback, meaning no-one ever really got heard.

If you’re open to it, feedback can definitely be an eye-opener and an opportunity to learn and choose to do things differently and better the next time.

Or, it can be a smack in the face if you’re not fully prepared.

Giving Constructive Feedback

I always preface feedback to students with the idea that every thing I’m providing to students is an opportunity to grow and evolve and make things better.

My approach is to give them “3 things” they can work on right away to get them to the next level.

It allows you to meet the student where they’re at, and help every one individually.

It’s important to be clear that feedback is never intended to be personal – so don’t make it personal.

And, that it’s about the work, and helping the work improve – so make it about the work, and helping the work improve.

I make it constructive, leading with what’s working and following with room for improvement.

Or, at least I thought I did!

Receiving Feedback

For some reason, in the face of this upcoming feedback, I decided to open up my feedback from previous semesters, and review what some students said.

Mistake. Big mistake.

I’d forgotten what had been written and had not prepared my self with the reminder of – feedback is not personal, it’s about the work.

See, where that might be my personal philosophy, that might not necessarily be the point of view of the people providing the feedback.

There were comments about the way my voice sounded and the way I dressed, and stating what I had done wrong because they didn’t like it.

In other words, there was a mix of personal commentary and some not very constructive comments based on individual points of view.

As human beings, we often zoom in on the “bad” feedback. The criticisms, and condemnations suddenly loom 10 times larger than life, and the great stuff disappears.

The 17 good or great comments suddenly disappear compared to the 3 “bad” comments.”

We suddenly care about the “bad” stuff, and see it way worse than it is.

The thing is…

What Makes Some Thing “Bad” or “Wrong?”

When one student, or co-worker, or boss, or customer… thinks you’re great, and another thinks you suck – you’re only being measured against their individual points of view and expectations – of what is good or bad or right or wrong.

You’re only good compared to what they think is good.

You’re only wrong compared to what they think is right.

And every single individual person on the planet has a completely different and independent view of right and wrong and good and bad.

And you are never, ever, ever going to know what that is.

No matter how hard you try.

You Are Never Going To Please Every One

You can respond to each piece of feedback and change something to please one person, and now the one that was happy is unhappy.

You can keep changing your self, who YOU are, what YOU do and the way YOU do it, in order to try to please the people you’re dealing with – at work, with friends, or family.

You can respond to every piece of feedback and try to meet s he needs of every one else.

Or, you can sift out the stuff that is personal and non-constructive, and focus on the feedback that’s going to make your work better.

You can continue to be who YOU really are, and accept that some people will love who YOU are and the way YOU do things, and some people just won’t.

As long as you…

Stick To Who YOU Really Are And Do Your Best

There’s not much more you can ask for.

Be open to feedback, take it on, but take it with a grain of salt.

For every one out there who says you did it “bad” or “wrong,” just make sure you don’t ignore the 23 who said you did it great.

And the 42 who didn’t comment cause they had nothing bad to say.

If you’re creating and contributing from a place of good intention, there’s always going to be people who cannot see that, or just don’t like it, because their own point of view is so filtered and well, just, coming from a different perspective.

Take all feedback, keep what works, let go of the rest, and focus on the stuff that helps YOU continue to be an even better version of who YOU really are.

XO

Liz Watt

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