Composting Received Feedback

Home » Feedback Tips Weekly » Composting Received Feedback

“I received feedback a decade ago that I’m just now learning how to implement in my life.”

This comment came from a participant in my feedback training, and it’s a great example of how feedback can be like compost. Like organic materials, there are times when feedback can be deposited into the soil of our lives and, perhaps decades later, convert into something we’re ready to use.

A pile of compost is filled with notes. There is a door in the middle of it.

If you are here, it’s because you know and respect how complex feedback communication can be. Part of this complexity can mean we receive feedback that, for various reasons, we aren’t ready to adopt. This is perfectly acceptable and it should not mean we discard the feedback forever.

If you’ve taken the course on constructive feedback, you know how important it is to process feedback after you’ve received it.

But there may be times when the processing phase doesn’t lead you directly to discarding or using the feedback. Why? Here are a few reasons I’ve discovered:

  1. You received feedback related to your long-term career path, and you don’t see ways in the foreseeable future to begin moving in that direction.
  2. The processing phase led you to discard the feedback, but there’s some kernel of truth in the feedback you aren’t sure how or if to act on.
  3. You need to grow into the feedback. In other words, your circumstances, emotional state, or perspectives aren’t ready to leverage the feedback.

Composting Feedback

In these and other instances, it can be helpful to compost the received feedback by storing it away for a time and then coming back to it when you or your situations have changed. You might save the feedback you received in a notebook, in Google Docs, whatever works for you — coming back to it at regular intervals or, as in the opening example, whenever the thought of it reemerges in your life.

Accessing Composted Feedback

In my experience, the best way to access composted feedback is by building an examined life — a life in which you regularly turn over the stones of your experiences to discover new insights. For me, this has meant a few things, including:

  1. a mindfulness practice that begins with a 30-minute silent sit each morning
  2. working with various therapists over the years
  3. leveraging writing as a disciplined form of thinking

For you, this might be something different altogether. In turning over the stones, you may find, as I do, that new doors can open up even in the most familiar material.


See Also:

The Feedback Receiver’s Mindset