Why You Should Ask For Feedback
I went to Toastmasters regularly for almost 8 years and one of my biggest key takeaways was the value of feedback.
After every speech, someone would give a short 2-3 verbal evaluation of the speech.
At the end of the evening, a general evaluator would give more feedback to everyone who had not given speeches (such as the evaluators).
It’s safe to say that after almost 8 years at Toastmasters, I got pretty used to receiving feedback.
Looking back, I appreciate being told about not only about what I did well in my speeches but also where I could improve, including:
- Saying “um” and “ah” too much
- Not having a clear introduction
- Lack of eye contact with the audience
- Not enough vocal variety
- Not using the stage space enough
- Pacing around too much
- Looking at my presentation notes too much
And so on…
One of my friends at Toastmasters reminded me that:
Feedback is a gift.
She is right.
I appreciate receiving feedback, below I will tell you why.
Current Status Quo on Feedback at work
Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t always get to receive timely feedback - we just get feedback once a year. But let’s be honest, how useful is it to get feedback weeks or even months after something occurred?
Not only that, but chances are we would have forgotten a lot of the things we could have given our colleagues feedback over (if we are having 360 reviews).
I don’t know about you, but I’m not keeping notes on my colleagues in a notebook, so I can give them lots of feedback come annual review time.
Asking For Feedback At Work
What I do
Since I’m aware that you need to be careful about giving unsolicited feedback at work, I make sure to ask my colleagues for feedback.
That way they have the green light to do so.
I did this when I was learning how to hold retrospectives.
I’ve also done this after I’ve worked with people for a few months, to get feedback on my testing overall.
I try not to frame it as “asking for feedback” but more: what do you think of this?
I ask for feedback at work because I’m aware that I’m not 100% self-aware.
Let me explain.
While I like to think I’m fairly self-aware of my own strengths and weaknesses, and what I could do better at work - I also know that there are probably certain things I’m blind to.
Let’s go back to Toastmasters of helping you discover ones blind spots.
At the start of this post, I wrote some examples of how I had been told to improve my speeches (where they were lacking).
These two were ones I was completely unaware of (until someone pointed it out):
- Saying “um” and “ah” too much
- Pacing too much
At Toastmasters we actually have an Ah Counter that counts all the filler words such as um, ah, like, etc) - this role exists to help bring awareness to the fact many people use filler words.
While this might not seem like a big deal to some, I think that overusing filler words can dilute the message and/or make someone seem not as sure of what they Are saying.
This is just one example of what I had been missing, up until I asked for feedback. I’ve learned a lot about how I come across to others, and what I can do to improve my work - because I asked for feedback.
What about you? What have you learned about yourself as a result of asking for feedback?