Feedback as Gift

I have a present for you.

No really, its a gift. And, if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can re-gift this over and over and take the art of re-gifting to a new level.

Not long ago one of my financial institutions disappointed me. Now to be clear it wasn’t the entire “institution” – we have gotten far too lazy in describing personal behaviors as organizational actions. No, the investments team disappointed me. I’m no Rockefeller but I do like to keep an eye on my money and have it work as hard as I do.

Hell, I’d be happy if my money worked half as hard as I do, but that’s another story…

Anyway, after a very specific email request I got back in reply a chirpy “we can help you with that” from a no-doubt chirpy customer service rep. And never heard from them again.

The good news is I can probably figure out my own investments and I have lots of contacts in my network who can turn me onto to advisers, but that’s not the gift. The gift is this: I offered the chirper some feedback. I hope she takes it in the sprit intended, and that’s the gift I offer to you today: what is the spirit you offer feedback in?

“Feedback” is one of those old chestnuts we toss around like “values” and “authentic” so much so we don’t even think about what it means. So, herewith a primer.

If your goal is to hurt someone, embarrass them, vent, bitch, moan or otherwise reassert that you in fact are the center of the universe when offering input to another, that is not feedback. Its vanity.

True feedback looks a lot like what I sent to the chirper this morning: a private note to her alone saying look, I was disappointed because of x, maybe you want to think about that. And the private part is key: “feedback” isn’t sending a complaint to someone’s boss, or posting some silly bit of fluff on social media. Feedback is a one-to-one gift.

Yes, I know, sometimes we’re angry, hurt, confused or frustrated because of what our business partners say, do or write: I get it. The thing is, we probably piss them off periodically too. I know I do.

Feedback has to be offered with good intent, the gift of unfettered perspective. It shouldn’t come with strings or “gotcha’s” – its simply a gift.

The next time you want to offer feedback to a coworker or service provider check three things first:

  1. Are you calm
  2. What is your intent
  3. Can you be objective

If you can say yes to these three things then offer your feedback, and hope that the receiving party sees it as the gift it was intended to be.

Now, get out there and start re-gifting…


5 thoughts on “Feedback as Gift

  1. Good article and a nice gift during this “gifting” time of year. I’ve frequently said in my training work and management work that I think “the greatest respect I can give you is to tell you the truth . . .at least as I see it.” Then it’s up to them to take the feedback or leave it.

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