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”.