August 31, 2015

Ask for the Feedback that Fuels Your Work


It’s incredible how important it is for us to feel like we’re heard, seen, acknowledged and appreciated. As much as we might try to tell ourselves and others that we’re above the need for credit and recognition–that doing a great job is fulfillment enough–we secretly yearn for a sincere thank you, an authentic acknowledgement, and an expressed understanding of the efforts we’ve made and work we’ve done.

When this natural need for feedback is met, we’re motivated to contribute and create. Feedback is fuel for our continued positive and productive work.

Unfortunately, feedback is not given in an immediate, direct, constructive and effective manner in most workplaces. People are too busy doing and accomplishing to stop and celebrate small successes. If a program goes well, the feedback its undertakers receive is that it’s offered and implemented once again. If an individual performs favorably, then the feedback is assumed when they maintain their salary and position.

This commonplace indirect feedback is not enough to drive us to achieve at our best.

There are two powerful and proactive ways to fulfill our need
receive feedback:

1.  Give What You Want to Receive
Create a feedback currency that will be regularly exchanged and circulated in your workplace. Apply the golden rule and your colleagues and clients will start treating you the way you treat them. It’s a simple trigger-stimulus-response scenario whereby those around you will reciprocate the intentional and immediate feedback you give to them with positive and acknowledging words of their own.

2.  Ask for What You Need
Rather than waiting and hoping to be noticed and notified, reach out to the client or colleague you want feedback from with written or spoken statements such as “I truly enjoyed working on this (project, case, deal, matter, task).” And, “thanks for the opportunity to work on xyz,” or, “I’m glad we were able to accomplish xyz, and would love to hear your take on how it could be even better.” You’ll receive a response in the form of a feedback when you make a point to request it.

It’s futile–and actually harmful–to secretly wish for something and take it personally when we don’t get it. Successful communicators are clear with themselves about what it is they desire–in this case, fuel in the form of feedback–and are then clear with others when expressing their needs.

Lee Broekman is an author, professor, trainer and coach. Her company Organic Communication, brings interactive, never boring, always edifying presentations and programs — focused on communication, collaboration and innovation — to your firm or organization.

Find her latest book Successful (Happy) Lawyering on