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Issue #46: Tough feedback


James Costa

February 27 · Issue #46 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

I’ve had a rough couple weeks, but this past week was particularly tough. It started by finding a pretty rough review on Glassdoor that characterized me as “very ineffective”.
Reading it threw me for a spiral: I’ve fought hard to create a company that focuses on relationships both with our clients and our staff. We’ve certainly not always been perfect, but it felt as though 8 years of work were for naught.
Needless to say, I took it extremely personally. I’d like to think of myself as a good, hardworking person, so hearing otherwise was difficult to hear. After all, this person felt so strongly about their experience with us that they went out of their way to leave a review (“what a hot mess”). Certainly does a number to your ego, which can be a pretty dangerous thing to have.
Generally unsolicited feedback comes from a place of emotion, so it’s important to break feedback apart and try to outline takeaways. Removing emotion from unsolicited feedback can be tough. It’s so easy to immediately try and figure out who sent it (we figured it out, 👋), as opposed to adding it to the list of things that keep you up at night.
Overall the experience has made me think a bit about feedback and what sort of impact feedback can have on others.
When asked about feedback, most people want it straight away and in public, but prefer to give it anonymously. This bit of disconnect often spurs teams to avoid feedback altogether (though that isn’t any healthier). Worse, leaders often receive feedback least, so you’re often left wondering whether or not you’re doing your job properly (or, more importantly to our egos: do people like us?).
Key here is that feedback needs to be given a safe environment. It starts before you send over a question, a survey, or start a conversation about feedback. It begins with encouraging a willingness to give and receive feedback, and consent to do so. Good feedback is direct and without something that can be taken as opinion or emotional. After giving feedback, it’s critical to follow-up and praise improvements often.
We have a negative perception of feedback as we tend to believe all feedback is bad. Good feedback is important to give and receive to build morale and good habits, and for some people is more effective (so, therefore, understanding your teammates’ personalities is key to driving the sorts of activities you look for). Facilitating small, easy ways to give this feedback is extremely helpful especially for introverts.
Getting feedback from an teammate who’s leaving really brought it all together and helped me refocus: “No one works harder than you do and no one does what you do better.” If you ever wonder if someone out there is talking shit about you: there probably is. Instead of wondering about whether or not you made the right call, focus on being better every day.
Here’s to fighting to be the most effective version of yourself this week with feedback.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or passing it on, it would mean the world to me.

The Key to Giving and Receiving Negative Feedback
Why you should never ask a developer to fix your bike
America's Workers: Stressed Out, Overwhelmed, Totally Exhausted
“Feedback doesn’t tell you about yourself. It tells you about the person giving the feedback. When we look at praise and criticism as information about the people giving it, we tend to get really curious about the feedback, rather than dejected or defensive.”
― Tara Mohr
This week’s issue marks one year since I started writing weekly for y'all. Having only missed 6 weeks, I’m pretty proud of the accomplishment. It hasn’t gotten any easier to do, but your kind words, sharing, and feedback drive me. 💪 🎉
As always, if you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email!
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