Beautiful feedback

Here's where I start this story by saying, "I love getting feedback from other people because it helps me improve myself". I know that's the Right Answer when talking about critical feedback and—wink wink—we only say and do the Right Things here on That's our Brand.

I hate critical feedback. Everyone hates it, I think. I think it's useful, and I ask for it and take it, but I cringe hard enough I'm in danger of pulling something at my advanced age. Please, sir, just tell me I made it to the top of the mountain and that there isn't anything left to climb.

Nah. Life's not like that. It would be boring if it was like that, although a good deal more relaxed.

As part of the closeout for the once-dreaded negotiations class, our final team of four had to give each other positive and negative individual feedback about our performance. I would have guessed, going into this exercise, that it was going to be only a pro forma exercise. Yes, you did this and that, and, oh, I did this and that, fascinating. Thanks. Bye. Nothing substantial, just get it done.

But there was something to that all-day final negotiation activity that acted like a kind of fast-setting glue. It was a stressful day, and it was a kind of hard work to do the negotiation, even if it was just a game. It took on a life of its own within the simulation. The feedback that came out of it, surprisingly to me, had Meaning. I felt like I had meaningful things to say about teammates' performances as well because they made an impression on me during those few hours. Even though receiving the negative bits of feedback had all the same armrest clenching autonomic responses that I get from feedback in the real world, it was somewhat easier to relax and listen—even though we had our own bond in that short time, it was easier to detach from it because it was so short and hear the negative bits without judgment, without reservation, without reaction. It was less charged, less loaded. It was easier to corroborate with all of the things I witness about myself in my own head. It was beautiful to hear—although hearing feedback and doing something about it are substantially far apart.

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