Have you read the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes? In this classic tale, the emperor is intimidating and no one wants to challenge him. A conman comes along and says that he is going to weave a magnificent cloth for the emperor’s clothes. He tells the emperor that the cloth can only be seen by the most elite people, so the emperor and all his court pretend to see the cloth—which of course is non-existent. At the end of the story the emperor walks through the town (without any clothes on) and only one young boy provides accurate feedback when he asks, “Why isn’t the emperor wearing any clothes?” Without the appropriate feedback, the emperor was left both without clothes and foolish.
If you were writing a newspaper article about feedback you would need to answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how. So let’s answer those.
Who needs feedback? We all rely on feedback and when we don’t get it, we too are the metaphorical emperor.
What sort of feedback do we need? We need direct, honest feedback spoken without malice or with an attempt to skew the information. We need to solicit feedback from a wide array of people so we can get as close to 360̊ of viewpoints as possible.
When do we need feedback? We need feedback all of the time. This is the data we need to make decisions. Feedback gives us things to consider.
Where should we get feedback? It is important to set up a designated time for feedback on how well we are doing. However, you should make space for feedback when it comes to you authentically.
Why do we need feedback? We need feedback to keep our actions relevant, relational, and rigorous. Without regular feedback it is easy to get in a rut and think we are making an impact that we aren’t.
How should we respond to feedback? Too often we think that feedback requires us to do what the person giving us the feedback has mentioned. That is not the case. The person giving feedback is sharing with you from his/her vantage point. We need to stop and consider what they are sharing. We need to ask ourselves if what they have shared is a change we want to make. We are not, however, required to take a specific action. Usually we get feedback from an array of people, and it is in combining all of the feedback, including our own, that will lead us to a strong decision.
C4K has a Module entitled Effective Feedback From Students. Check it out and let us know what you think.