Seeking Feedback with a Pure Intention

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This week’s tip is about seeking feedback not to tick a box or be perceived in a certain way, but to genuinely discover opportunities to grow.

If you’ve spent some time with my content, you know I’m all-in on the power of what is referred to as “feedback-seeking behavior” in academic literature. Here is a reminder of how we’ve defined it:

Feedback-Seeking Behavior Definition. Feedback-seeking behavior refers to how individuals seek feedback either by reading the actions of others to infer what it means or by explicitly asking others for feedback. Since 1983, Dr. Susan Ashford and others have been researching feedback-seeking behavior. In organizations, feedback-seeking behavior generally leads to positive improvements in performance and the conversational feedback process.

For additional context on why proactively seeking feedback is such a powerful mechanism for personal and professional development, check out the opening lines of this 2022 paper:

“Lifelong learning is crucial for professionals to continuously develop and update their knowledge and skills, and for organizations to create and sustain competitive advantage. In this regard, feedback seeking is a powerful vehicle to gain new knowledge and insights in one’s development and performance.”

Source: “Learning leadership and feedback seeking behavior: Leadership that spurs feedback seeking.” (Frontiers in Psychology, 2022).

While that quote is powerful, the role of intention underlies it. What do I mean by that? Well, you may have experienced someone who seeks your feedback not necessarily to learn but to quickly get your approval so they can move forward with a project. Or, similarly, some seek feedback as a way to appease someone or to perform humility — in other words, it’s more about the performance than gaining “new knowledge and insights.”

A colorful abstract painting reveals the strong root system of a tree.
Source: Cameron Conaway. Image created using Magic Media by Canva

In this sense, it can be helpful to view your feedback-seeking behavior not so much as part of your journey “to the top” of the corporate ladder or whatever system of hierarchy you’re part of, but, like roots, as a journey downward into the soil that serves as the foundation of your ability to grow beautifully upward.

The knowledge and insights you can gain through seeking feedback, particularly if you’ve received feedback training and are surrounded by leaders with high levels of feedback literacy, can help you improve your immediate skills and reveal profound personal insights that guide your development.


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