The Magic of Feedback

This came to me like a flash out of the blue–what magic, what a miracle feedback is!

I’m not talking about the blaring sound that comes from your old electric guitar, when you stand too close to the amp. And I’m not talking about the weird light show that emanates from the ceiling, just before that old-school lightbulb gives its on last gasp, and goes out forever. Feedback, in this case, consists of the reflections we share with each other. Often when things “ain’t quite right”.

Feedback, which many of us think of as a curse, can be another’s gift to us. An indication that sometimes things “ain’t quite right”, in the ways we: a) express ourselves, b) present ourselves or c) go about sharing with each other. There could also be d), e), f) and g).

What do I mean by that? What sort of gift am I talking about?

Most of us, including yours truly, have no idea of how we’re coming across to someone else. After all, I’ve been doing things more-or-less the same way most of my life. I’m not always couth or kind. Sometimes, to be plain, I just stick my foot in it! And the worst of it is, I don’t know I’ve done it. Unless I have someone, usually reasonably close to me emotionally, that can supply feedback! That is, take me aside (usually) and tell me how I sounded, how I came across, how I presented myself in an unkind way. Feedback!

Now, I’m the first to say that I don’t always seek out feedback. Particularly, if I’ve been particularly hard on someone, ironically, for not presenting in precisely the way I think they should have. In those cases, I’m least likely to seek out feedback, let alone accept it when it is offered unsolicited. I can be, for lack of a better term, a bit of a pig! (No, offense to the pig, of course).

Every time I ignore (or don’t deliberately seek out feedback) for my behavior, I am refusing a gift. It can be one of the most precious gifts another can give. Of course, the goal is present the feedback in such a way that it isn’t actually worse than the behavior it is addressing! However, if the feedback is presented in such a way that it is actually intended to improve me, why wouldn’t I listen? Wholeheartedly? Giving me feedback, especially in a way that I can internalize it and accept it, is quite possibly the most magical gift another can give me?

I’m fortunate. I’m in a relationship with a woman that loves me. She is giving my feedback all the time! Why on earth wouldn’t I accept it? Why wouldn’t see seek out, the same as someone digging for gold? This amazing creation is someone who (whether I like it or not) is here, among other things, to make me a better human being!

Granted, not all of us are as fortunate. Many have to (want to) accept feedback from those who are not as close or even as committed. For those who are not as close or committed, and just sort of “sticking their necks out”, we owe even more to accept that feedback from them, and thank them for taking a chance. A chance that I’ll listen, a chance that I’ll do something about my annoying behavior, or way of expressing myself.

There will be more to come in future blogs, I’m sure, on feedback: what it is, and how best to offer it to others, and accept it when it is offered to us.

What’s the best, most helpful feedback you’ve ever gotten? Did you realize it at the time, what a special gift it was?

I hope you all will respond in the Comments section below.

About Gerry Wieder

Gerry is a former Registered Nurse, currently living in the Seattle area of the United States.
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