When you get feedback in general, it’s usually difficult to come to grips with it.
Part of it depends on who is giving it, how it is being delivered, and one other thing that is particularly deadly: ambiguity
Criticism or feedback can do more harm than good if the person receiving it doesn’t know what specifically to do in order to “fix” the problem.
When it comes to something like public speaking, a potentially self-conscious shitstorm, say you receive some feedback like this: “Your gestures are distracting.”
What good does that do? In a 10-minute speech it’s unlikely that you do the same gesture the entire time. Which gestures in particular were distracting?
This also illustrates how important it is to record your speeches to judge for yourself.
I remember getting a rough critique a long time ago...it was the one in my example actually. Out of about twenty people who gave me feedback, only one person gave me that particular feedback. I try to stay open minded and in fact, I found a couple of spots that could have been construed as “distracting.”
I’m brutally honest with myself, but overall I didn’t agree with the criticism. If I didn’t have video, that might have created an open loop in my mind and even amped up my self-consciousness the next time.
No one wants to have that in the back of their mind. So, if you give out feedback, be specific. Feedback and constructive criticism is how we grow, but let’s give it to them with growth in mind, not just a random criticism that can cause more harm than good.
I once carelessly gave feedback to my friend about a part of his book that I was confused about. He asked for the feedback, sure, but I gave him some generic feedback from memory.
The problem was I didn’t have the book with me at the time to be able to point to exactly what I meant, and I didn’t remember the specifics. When I got home I remember thinking..."Ah crap...how would I have felt if the tables had been turned?" I would have been a bit anxious and perhaps sat and pondered over it, “dang, I wonder what exactly the problem is with? Is it really bad? Should I scrap that entire section?”
I should have held off on giving the feedback until I had the book in hand and the specifics to point to, as well as the exact reasoning for my thoughts. That would have avoided the “open loop syndrome” and gave him something to really consider. It’s the not knowing that eats at us.
No matter what feedback you give, wanted or unwanted, the least you could do is be specific about it. And why not back it up with good intentions? Criticism without the purpose of bettering someone is just a sneaky way of insulting people.
Spread the good stuff only, huh? Oh yeah, and be specific.
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About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life and it can change yours, too. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.