• David Strittmatter

I asked for feedback and it changed my life

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. - Ken Blanchard
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Summary:

  • The first step to obtaining (better) feedback is to ask for it

  • Moreover, we need to use the feedback and aim to do things differently

  • The more genuine the feedback, the more valuable it becomes


Practical advice:

  • First, you need to be receptive for feedback. Be genuinely interested in the opinion of the person you ask for feedback

  • Second, listen without interruption. Provide the person giving feedback with the feeling that you're listening carefully

  • Third, ask clarifying questions and for concrete improvement recommendations. Thereby, you can paraphrase the words you understood


Dear friend,


Some weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of finding our strengths and how we can do so. Thereby, I suggested asking friends, family, and colleagues for regular feedback and their view so that we can personally grow.


I greatly love feedback and highly appreciate every person who spends their time to provide me with his/her opinion and advice. Since I started my YouTube channel, I've received thousands of comments from people providing me with feedback. Ever since I've read and answered every single one even though some of them were pretty harsh.


When I was in high school, I regularly asked my teachers what I can do better and how I can improve. Their feedback greatly helped me to achieve better grades.


Generally speaking, feedback is a great means to improvement in all areas of life. Whether it's at work, in relationships, in sports, or in other hobbies, feedback helps us to grow. But why is feedback so vital, how can we obtain more and better feedback, and how can we make the most out of it? That's what today's blog article is about.


Why feedback changed my life for the better


When I was a teenager, I was shy and "socially awkward". I loved discussing unusual stuff with people I knew, often appearing like an annoying smart alec (Klugscheißer). Looking back, I wouldn't have enjoyed spending time with the person I used to be if I'd been another person.


On my journey to a "socially enjoyable" person, I received a lot of feedback in the form of rejection. I forced my "socially awkward self" to get out, approach new people, and open conversations. Thereby, I wanted to go to parties (particularly private parties like birthday parties because I was too young for dancing clubs) and regularly asked people I knew what they were about to do at the weekend. Often, they told me they did nothing special and chilled at home even though, on the next Monday, I found out that they went out.


When I finally got to a party, I had a really hard time getting into "not awkward" conversations. People often wanted to back out of the conversation as soon as I talked to them. These rejections, though, ultimately boosted my self-confidence. I knew that rejection is a normal thing. Once we open up and make ourselves vulnerable, rejection is part of the game. And the more conversations I had, the more enjoyable they became because received a lot of "real feedback" on what's enjoyable and what's not.


Further examples of the positive impact of feedback:

  • At work, I regularly ask for formal feedback. This feedback insanely enhanced my professional abilities, such as problem-solving or communication skills

  • Reflecting on my previous relationship, I learned to become a more considered and empathetic partner

  • As a leader of a university organization, I asked my team leaders for feedback, greatly helping me to develop my leadership skills

  • Starting weightlifting, I often asked people to give me feedback on my exercise technique, boosting my performance

How to receive more and better feedback


The more genuine the feedback, the more valuable it becomes. Talking to strangers yields more reliable and valid feedback than asking your best friend for it. Your boss might be a better source than your peers. And asking your partner for feedback on what you can do better in your relationship is better in a neutral setting than right after an argument.


The first step to obtaining (better) feedback is to ask for it. Most people don't ask for feedback in the first place. That's quite unfortunate for 2 reasons: (1) People love being asked for their opinion and (2) their feedback can often save us plenty of time and/or misery.


I made it a habit to regularly ask for feedback whether at work (formal feedback every 2-3 weeks), my YouTube community (polls and a call to action in every video), or my girlfriend (whenever I'm in doubt, I ask). At first, it won't be easy, but - as with everything - we get used to it.


How to make the most out of feedback


Just asking for feedback, however, isn't enough. If we ask another person for feedback and feel offended or even fight against the explanation, we won't receive genuine feedback we can harness to grow. Moreover, we need to use the feedback and do things differently.

When receiving feedback, you should consider these building blocks:


First, you need to be receptive for feedback. Be genuinely interested in the opinion of the person you ask for feedback.


Second, listen without interruption. Provide the person giving feedback with the feeling that you're listening carefully.


Third, ask clarifying questions and for concrete improvement recommendations. Thereby, you can paraphrase the words you understood.


By regularly asking for feedback and applying these simple steps, you can substantially improve any area of your life. It doesn't take much, but the results can be massive.

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