Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Few things are more helpful in our quest for excellence than constructive feedback, and few things are more harmful than destructive feedback. The difference between constructive and destructive feedback is simply the relevance, intent, and demeanor of the individual offering the feedback.
In our instantaneous, online, connected world, it is easy for anyone anywhere to give you feedback for any reason. I often think that some of the harmful comments people make in social media are done using words that those individuals would never use in a face-to-face conversation. Simply because constructive feedback is so valuable, and destructive feedback is so detrimental, we must learn to quickly separate the good from the bad so we can utilize positive feedback and flush everything else.
As someone who has written over 40 books, eight of which have been turned in to movies, regularly appears on national radio and TV, speaks at arena events, and has written over 1,000 of these columns over the last 20 years, I get a lot of feedback. The vast majority of all the feedback I receive-in excess of 99 percent-is positive and encouraging, but the demeaning, destructive critics can be so vile and volatile that they almost demand attention.
We must learn to turn up the volume on the good, and turn down the volume on the bad.
When someone offers you a critique, you should first determine whether the critique is personal or professional. Everyone who buys one of my books, a movie ticket, reads these columns, or sits in the audience of one of my arena events is entitled to their opinion and can freely share their thoughts with me. If their opinion is valid and deals with my products or performance, they are providing me a great service, but if their opinion is directed at me personally, it can be harmful if not eliminated immediately.
Once you have determined that the criticism is about your product or performance, you then need to honestly assess whether the criticism is valid. Someone may have a genuine, heartfelt criticism that is well intended but misses the mark. If this is the case, you must let it slide by as you focus on your positive feedback. Unless feedback is totally vile or profane, I thank everyone who reaches out to me for sharing their thoughts and opinions.
If we are going to get better at what we do, there's no one more able to point us in the right direction than the people we serve. They should have easy and open access to expressing their thoughts. Those whose intentions are less positive or even destructive, need to have their volume turned down so we can ignore them.
As you go through your day today, treasure constructive feedback, and get rid of the rest.
Today's the day!