By Luisa Florez
At some point, I used to believe various myths regarding feedback. I used to battle with these myths every time I decided to go to office hours as a freshmen. I wanted to get feedback from my professor to see if I really understood the concepts, but at the same time I worried that it would make me seem less qualified to be an engineer. I thought it would make me look weak and would overshadow my strengths. I came to realize that what I was imagining was not the case (in fact, most professors actually enjoy students visiting their office hours). Instead of being a sign of “weakness”, I realized feedback is a tool to cultivate knowledge and networks. In addition, asking for feedback is a great way to break the ice at a networking event (“It’s registration time and I am thinking of taking X class. Do you think the skills from this class would be useful in industry?”) and is a good segue to self-reflection.
5 FEEDBACK MYTHS
- Successful people do not ask for feedback.
False. Even the most successful individual is continuously experiencing growth in some way. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. A good way to get some perspective on them is through feedback. Consider your favorite best-selling author. They may be naturally great writers, but rest assured that they received feedback on their scripts multiple times!
- Asking for feedback means you are weak.
False. Asking for feedback shows that you are proactive and are seeking opportunities to grow. It allows you to gain key insights into different areas and can help you develop organic mentorships with individuals. That said, you want to be strategic with who, how and when you ask for feedback. For example, if you’re looking for some feedback on your resume, you might want to ask an individual who works in the field you’d like to be in. Keep in mind that even though individuals (especially professionals) are busy, you’ll find that most people love to help if you are mindful and respectful. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
- You must implement all the feedback you receive
False. People have unique points of views based on their different experiences. If you ask an engineer and a graphic designer to give you feedback on your resume, you will get different responses from them. Different does not mean that one is wrong; it’s just a different perspective. It’s up to you to take the feedback, reflect on the lessons learned and see what best applies to you and your situation.
- You need to ask for feedback only when things are going wrong.
False. Say you hosted a volunteering event and you could tell the volunteers were enjoying themselves. But what exactly did they enjoy? You’ll never know unless you ask. Positive feedback is equally as important as critical feedback. It helps us understand what is working and gives us further insight into our strengths. Plus, it’s a nice confidence boost.
- Asking for feedback is a one-time thing.
False. Getting frequent feedback is important. A professional at SHPE National Conference told me, “If the only time you are getting feedback during the year is at your yearly evaluation, you are doing it wrong.” Asking for feedback on a routine basis (e.g. after large projects or specific milestones) can help you make sure you’re on the right track, see how your work is coming across to your team, and help you make any necessary adjustments before the end of the year or deadline.