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The Essence of Feedback

I once received a testimonial that stated amongst other things “Susan is a delight to listen to and debate with. She questions anything and doubts everything.”

I didn’t like this at first because while I’ve come to realise that I do analyse everything by default but at the same time I trust people, expecting the best of them unless I find that their story just doesn’t add up or they do something directly to me or someone else that betrays that trust.

Then there are those people that I just connect with at some level due to common interests, values, visions, experiences or something less tangible that just can’t be defined. I trust them more because there is that connection.

There are also the people that I would virtually trust with my life or at least aspects of it. They are people that I’m confident have my best interest at heart even though they might make mistakes and get things wrong from time to time. (I recognise that without a doubt so do I)

Now moving on from there, I know we are supposed to do our own due diligence, but when people I really trust introduce me to someone they know or make a referral, the person that has been introduced has more credibility with me then if I’d just me them on the street. I suspect most people operate on these bases.

As a result of this, I’ve been feeling somewhat concerned following a few conversations I’ve had with friends whereby feedback not provided on experiences could potentially lead to the heightened risk of further problems in the future.

I first started really thinking about this when I met up with a friend for drinks a few weeks back. Sally was feeling fed up with people taking her for granted as she had just terminated a business relationship with someone who was good at what he did but never delivered to agreed timeframes. She had found it difficult to terminate the relationship with James, because a close associate had introduced him to her. What, however, made things worse was that when she spoke to her associate about the situation he admitted that he knew the problems with James, but thought she could manage things. What her associate failed to realise is that by not giving Sally a true assessment of James he had virtually set her up to fail.

It was against this backdrop that I subsequently met with Peter for lunch. The last time I met with him he had been raving non-stop about Simon who had done some work for him. Noticing that Peter didn’t once mention Simon during the course of the conversation, I asked him how Simon. To my surprise he virtually started spitting venom speaking about how Simon had duped him and how he was lucky to of got of lightly.

Knowing that a mutual friend had introduced Simon to Peter, I asked him whether he had let the introducer know. He responded he hadn’t provided any real feedback because he didn’t want to cause any upset. What he forgot is that without the feedback the introducer could very easily introduce Peter to more people that he knows.

The lack of feedback also extends into employment situation when we don’t tell an employee that he or she is not doing well because we don’t want to cause upset. The only problem is that by not providing feedback we rob the individual of the opportunity to improve, to gain promotion and possibly get good bonuses.

So maybe it’s time that though with sensitivity we all start providing feedback where necessary.

Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

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