The importance of feedback as a tool for personal change and professional development cannot be overstated. Deep feedback involves seeking out substantive, often critical advice on performance, attributes, and style. Asking for this type of feedback can be a distressing experience, especially in a culture conditioned to preserve self-esteem at all costs. The value of deep feedback, though, outweighs the possible unpleasantness of incurring a hit to one’s ego.
A common mistake made by employees in the modern workplace is simply neglecting to ask for deep feedback in the first place. It is easy to avoid the harsh light of honest feedback by never seeking it out, but this strategy leads to complacency and professional mediocrity. People tend to overestimate the quality of their own performance, so avoiding deep feedback can leave them in an echo chamber of their own making, blissfully unaware of the way their work is perceived by those around them. Overcoming personal resistance to deep feedback is a key aspect of improvement and advancement.
The mere provision of feedback, even honest feedback, does not end the inquiry. How a person responds to feedback dictates how much it will be internalized. People can choose to either personalize the feedback and react destructively, or they can depersonalize the advice and not see it as an attack on their entire identity. No matter how eager a person is for feedback, a destructive reaction will make others unwilling to provide more feedback in the future.
People should view feedback as a compass, or something that will keep them on the straight and narrow. Carving out time to ask for feedback, internalizing it properly, taking advantage of mentorship opportunities, and being attuned to unconscious feedback from others’ actions and body language can allow individuals to capitalize on input and transform their career trajectories.