Growing up, I experienced mixed signals of encouragement and hypercriticism. For anybody in this environment, it can be really confusing. Eventually, I learned the importance of constructive feedback.
1. Encouraging environment
A place that is supportive, loving, embraces mistakes and helps one believe in themselves. We know from research, these environments do wonders for one’s mental, cognitive and emotional health.
2. Hypercritical environment
A place that focuses on minor mistakes, overbearing, does not embrace change and may make one feel they can’t do anything right. Again, these kind of environments wreak havoc on one’s overall health. Especially long-term exposure over a lifetime.
How these two places affected my way of thinking
On one hand, I felt supported. On the other hand, I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Taking on a new perspective was weird, strange and looked down upon. Unfortunately, this weighed heavily on my confidence and most aspects in life.
Over time, I tried my best to ‘fit in’ to what my external environment was like.
I became a people pleaser before I even heard the word. I learned to listen to what others wanted of me.
I did what they said.
During adolescence, this way of thinking became harder and harder.
Why am I living like this?
Do I want my life to be this way forever?
Why can’t I question the way things are?
This lead to an overhaul in my life. I shed my old beliefs and lived the way I wanted.
I refused to acknowledge other people’s opinions.
After some time, I new I needed to rebuild. I needed balance of feedback and independence.
The mental and emotional overhaul: time to rebuild
I started listening to motivational speakers, thought leaders and inspirational entrepreneurs in their pursuit of improvement and excellence. I heard about their mistakes, their advice and how to begin to improve your own life.
All of these motivational speakers seemed to repeat the same thing: constructive feedback is essential to self-improvement.
I began envisioning what an ideal life would look like. I critiqued my previous ways of living, doing and being.
What was working?
What could be changed?
How can this be achieved?
What timeline do I want this done?
I asked as many questions as possible. Once I had this on paper, the next part was taking action.
I made conscious decisions each day to work towards my ideal life. Slowly, but surely, what I would rebuild was an environment based on encouragement and feedback.
Not everything I trialled worked. Not everything I did was fun and exciting. A lot of it would be considered ‘behind the scenes’: mental shifts, emotional breakdowns, dusting myself off and starting again.
This taught me that life is a mixed bag. You can hope and have a vision. But it does not mean that it will happen the way you want. And that’s okay.
Feedback and critique through career
Throughout my years in hospitality, I strived to provide excellent customer service. Day-in, day-out, I kept striving.
The missing key ingredient? I would shy-away from feedback. I worked so hard to be one of the best employees, I didn’t think it was necessary. How wrong that thought was!
When I went through my life overhaul, that way of being was no longer.
In my new jobs, I began to ask more questions, take initiative and embrace feedback. This was the only way to improve. I then wanted more in my career. I wanted to be better in every aspect of life.
I would see how my colleagues and workmates interacted and worked and did my best to take their useful tips and improve. Not everything another person does will be helpful to you and how you do your job, but there is always something to learn.
How to navigate expectation and feedback
1. Know what your role is
No matter what your job is, do your best to understand the ins and outs. There may be nuances that you notice over time. Understanding your position and how it impacts your team or company is so helpful for the long run. By knowing what your responsibility is, you can then manage your own and others’ expectations.
2. Seek role models
Whether it is your frontline manager, CEO or someone else outside the organisation. Find someone you’re inspired by. Use that inspiration to embrace feedback and change things up when appropriate.
3. If you’re struggling in your job, reach out
Whether it means talking to your colleague, manager or a friend, reach out. Getting feedback isn’t always just about improving and doing better. It is also about sharing the lows and struggles in career. Everyone has their days, and that’s okay.
If you’re wanting to improve in career or any aspect of life, remember that constructive, useful feedback is important. Ask questions, stay curious and enjoy where you are, when you can!