How often in life do you ask for feedback?
It is very easy in life to get used to a situation and never check in with other people to see how you are doing. We do it at work and we do it in our relationships. But if we never get feedback we are never going to improve.
Now, first of all, asking for feedback is going to involve feeling some negative emotions. Some people interpret mindfulness as trying to always be happy, which I disagree with. Being mindful is about feeling whatever is going on, positive or negative. Many of us will immediately shut down when we feel negative emotions. One lesson that I have learned is that I take criticism much better because I can sit with whatever negative emotions I feel. It isn’t necessarily pleasant, but it is important. And I still have a lot to learn about accepting criticism and just feeling the negative feelings, but I am better than I used to be.
The article I read by Kim Scott and others suggests a very powerful question that can elicit authentic feedback instead of worthless platitudes. “What one thing can I do to support you?” You are asking for one actionable step that you can take. And then you have to be quiet and listen to what you are told. Because the person giving you feedback is probably doing it from a place of love. As they say in the article, someone who cares about you will tell you that have food on your face, someone who is indifferent won’t bother telling you.
So let’s turn this around. What if you were to ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do that would make me a better …?” What one thing can I do to be a better parent? What one thing can I do to be a better friend? What one thing can I do to be a better person?
What is one thing you can do better? What is stopping you? Asking this question and then watching your thoughts can be a powerful exercise. And you can ask this question on a meditation cushion or standing on the train. Mindfulness is for all day long, not just when you are sitting in meditation.
So how can you be a better person? A better boss? A better parent? Ask yourself and ask one other person. The answer just might surprise you!
©2023 by Shaya Kass, PhD
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The article discussed in this newsletter is: Scott, K., Fosslien, L., & West Duffy, M. (2023). How Leaders Can Get the Feedback They Need to Grow. Harvard Business Review.