Feedback is defined as a reaction after a behavior or statement. It’s mostly confused with criticism. Criticism is defined as the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults. It is easily recognizable that criticism is based on the analysis and feedback is based on reaction. Although both feedback and criticism have positive and negative examples, it would be wrong to put them in the same position.
There might be different reasons public being open to criticism or not. For example, Turkish society (in general) is not really comfortable with criticism. But when the feedback is taken on the personal level correctly, I believe we can break the prejudice for criticism also. Because feedback is actually based on to be criticised. Receiving feedback for the behavior, statement or work not only improves the personality, but it also helps the society to take a step further and be open-minded. Actually, mechanisms of feedback are widely used in different fields and they became a part of us.
Feedback often occupies the agenda in both work and school. We get feedback from the grades and talks with the professors in school and similarly, by salary and performance review meetings at work. Until we find another good way to improve ourselves, feedback is one of the most important and effective things to improve our performance.
On the other side, in online life, we tend to share our best moments with everyone. While this is totally natural and (most of the time) directs us to a somewhat happy life, we constantly lack feedback on social occasions. Do we prefer to have some feedback cycle with our friends or just avoid the bad things and focus on the good stuff? The latter is more preferred. While explaining personal emotions (even the good ones), our brain does a lot of work. Language and emotion parts of the brain are different. Therefore, talking about emotions is really hard. Even sometimes, we found ourselves in a situation in which we cannot explain how we felt at the moment. So, while having these difficulties, how we can explain to others the feelings which we have for them? Here is how I try to give feedback to my friends and try to receive some of them:
- Feedback is based on trust. Build trust!
- Be open. Acknowledge the feedbacks are for your good!
- Be nice and kind all the time.
- Be available. Always reserve a spot for feedback on the busy (or empty) schedule.
- Try to understand what causes the real problem to work on it.
- Repeat the understandings on the condition to confirm you are on the same page.
- Always be grateful for the feedback.
- Schedule a follow-up event about the process.
This process might look cumbersome. But most of the parts happen without notice. For instance, if you try to be nice and open, you will understand the grounds of the problem easily. Also, you can eliminate the last point but I highly suggest not. Because there is no way to follow the progress of how you’re doing.
If we cannot build trust and be nice, it’s easy to seem like a person who is not confident. This leads to more personal problems, especially for introverts. It’s already hard for introverted people to build trust. Hence, it’s inevitable to get into a cycle of being diffident and not getting any feedback. So, even though it seems hard to build trust, it’s actually easier when everyone is on the same page at work (and wants to get something done) and school (fully learn something new).
Obviously, our face-to-face relationships are getting weaker every day. Hence, long relationships are getting harder. People tend to meet first online and become really good friends or a couple. But when they meet face-to-face, they might not feel comfortable enough like they used to do while talking online. While the direct conversation is hard, how can we talk about feedbacks? Sometimes, we don’t need to directly say the feedback.
Understanding the feedback from feelings is a tough topic. I and my flatmate had one simple rule, “Whenever you feel uncomfortable on something, say it.” This saved us from keeping the bad feelings inside and letting them grow. Now, he is one of my best friends, and feedbacks are still a constant part of our friendship.
Besides relationships, most of the time there is no feedback while learning something online. If you’re following online course materials, you will seek to get some more detailed information about how you’re doing. It is really hard to find a teacher/mentor for examination of your progress while learning online. I spent months following courses on Coursera and missing feedback was my constant feeling. Even if they have a good grading system and discussion forums where I can ask questions, it’s really hard to see how was my progress. I didn’t feel that I learned all the aspects of the topics. I know that those courses are just the beginning but I lost my belief in online courses in general. Besides the title and related advantages, getting a bachelor, master, or Ph.D. degree means having constant feedback. Otherwise, almost all course materials are available online. Even though everyone can watch the same lectures with master students, you have to work harder to be on the same level when there is a lack of feedback.
After all, I must admit that giving feedback is as hard as receiving feedback. People often feel shame or act shy. Even if they are not, saying negative things about someone else is troublesome. But, I believe we can break this by building trust, being open and nice. These can lead us to have a better life and understand the real problems. Therefore, we can easily start working on them. When we make mistakes and don’t learn from them, so, what are those mistakes for?
This post is also available in Turkish.