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The two sides of feedback

April 16, 2017


Let there be no doubt about this – Feedback IS useful. ANY and ALL feedback is useful. There is no doubt at all about that. And there are multiple ways in which feedback is given and received. The most important thing is the action that the recipient takes after receiving feedback.


Feedback is not only when there is a serious debate on actions, behaviours, attitudes and the like. It is used when one responds to their name being called out. So, it is integral to our ability to communicate, learn, and therefore becoming better than we were.


This article is intentionally written with a fair degree of detail, and maybe even repetitive statements at many places. And that again, is intentional. There are 2 aspects to feedback – receiving and giving. The core principles of both have been encapsulated in the two pictures here in this article. If one feels they are already very good at both receiving and giving feedback, it might still be useful to read the article. This is by no means the last word on feedback – however, it contains much knowledge obtained from experts and excellent communicators.


This most likely will reiterate one’s existing knowledge, and maybe even add to it. One will not lose anything by reading it. As Ken Blanchard says, “when you ask for something, you either break-even or make a profit.” Similarly, if by reading this article you do not learn anything new, you have broken even. And if you find even a small thing you can learn, you have made a profit.

One will not lose anything by reading it – as Ken Blanchard says, “one either breaks even or make a profit.” If they do not learn anything new, they have broken even. And if they find even a small thing they can learn, they have made a profit.

Why is feedback useful?

Humans have learnt to walk, entirely thanks to feedback that gravity gives. I am aware that I need to be sensitive to those who are not physically able to walk for various reasons. They could be challenged in a variety of ways, that makes it not possible for them to walk. This example is used in a specific context and as with any statement, being quoted out of context will give it a different hue. The intent is not to be disrespectful, dismissive or inconsiderate of those who are physically challenged and cannot walk on their own. The example of walking could be replaced with any form of learning. Feedback is an integral part of the learning process and hence I call attention to it here.


The key to walking is balance. And, then to move along with balancing. And gravity being gravity, gives feedback instantly as soon as we go “out of balance.” This feedback, and the corrections made in response, is what makes walking possible. We fell down and hurt ourselves, sometimes even badly, as we attempted to walk. And yet, while the falls might have been painful temporarily, all those falls helped us learn the ability to walk properly.


At that time, we did not complain