image source: www.student.londonmet.ac.uk
For me, finding ways to get feedback has always been one of the biggest challenges as a creative, but largely non-performing person. When I was a kid, I got direct, mostly honest feedback all the time from parents, teachers and friends. When I got older, it was hard to get the feedback, and when I got it, I found it hard to filter.
I get three kinds of feedback from people: No feedback, which often indicates that they don’t really want to be in a position to offer their opinion; short, brutal feedback, which often has more to do with the giver than with me; and thoughtful feedback. All three types are valuable to me, although the third is the most fun.
I often feel I need other people’s feedback in order to get better. Sometimes, though, I recognize that I’m uncomfortably addicted to feedback because without it I tend to judge myself inaccurately. Given the significance that feedback has in my world, I find it helpful to keep several things in mind.
People see more than what I am missing. Often I am looking for that feedback that tells me my work (or my body) is missing something that would make it appealing. Presumably I’m then going to go out and get it.
But people also see what I and my work have. Smart people accentuate their best qualities, not necessarily to hide their deficits, but to make the deficits irrelevant. The best part of this strategy is that by doing so, they attract to themselves more of the people that like what they have.
I also suspect that other people probably care much more what I think about them than what they think about me. When I can’t get honest feedback it may be that the other person’s need is greater than my own. That’s either an impasse for us, or an opportunity for me to help them if I am able to do so.
Finally, I have to put my need for feedback into perspective. As I said, I sometimes find that I judge myself very harshly and require feedback to put my own thoughts into perspective.
Often when I get very anxious about myself, I request information on my work as a way of easing my anxiety.
Not only is that a somewhat dishonest request for feedback, but it ups the tension in the relationship considerably as more is at stake than just the quality of the work. In the end, I’m not likely to get great feedback out of that kind of interaction anyway. Either I need to ask questions about what I really want to know (“Am I being annoying?”) or wait until I’m no longer anxious to ask about my work.
Do you have feedback for me on this blog? If you do, I’d love to hear it, brutal or thoughtful. If not, I figure you’re probably busy or something and…hey…that’s ok!