Feed­back is impor­tant, there’s no doubt, but obtain­ing qual­ity feed­back that is hon­est and of use can be difficult.

After spend­ing an evening with a per­son “obliv­i­ous to the social dynam­ics” of a sit­u­a­tion, Ben Cas­nocha pro­vides tips on obtain­ing hon­est feed­back:

  • For feed­back on specifics — such as your par­tic­i­pa­tion at a din­ner or a piece of writ­ing — […] proac­tively ask for it.
  • It’s harder to get feed­back on more per­ma­nent per­son­al­ity traits or long-standing habits, so ask for “ideas” or, if appro­pri­ate, for feed­back via the Nohari and Johari exercises.
  • If you give blunt feed­back, you are actu­ally less likely to get blunt feed­back in return. The law of reci­procity does not apply.
  • Con­sider how close you are to a per­son who is pro­vid­ing feed­back and how that will affect their response(s).

Pene­lope Trunk offers some more advice on receiv­ing… advice:

  • Pay atten­tion to your critics.
  • Realise that our prob­lems are not unique.
  • Less expe­ri­ence often means bet­ter advice.
  • Be wary of peo­ple whose lives look perfect.
  • Stick with peo­ple who give you bad advice.

That first item from Trunk is iden­ti­cal to the one piece of ‘feed­back advice’ that I’ve sub­scribed to since I heard it dur­ing Randy Pausch’s Last Lec­ture:

  • Lis­ten to your crit­ics. “When you’re screw­ing up and nobody’s say­ing any­thing to you any­more, that means they gave up”.