It’s difficult to imagine how any practitioner could improve without seeing, seeking and considering feedback1. There’s an often cited phrase that you’ve probably heard before, it’s the kind that adorns LinkedIN memes and motivational posters. It is:
“Feedback is a gift”
It’s difficult to argue with the underlying intent of this statement—it takes effort for someone to explicitly consider a situation and provide their feedback, and this is something we should be grateful for. However, in this short blog I want to consider:
- Is all feedback a gift (is it always consciously given)?
- Is feedback always a gift?
Most Feedback Is Tacit
Gifts, I would assume, are consciously and explicitly given, they might be wrapped up with a bow added to make them look pretty. When giving somebody feedback, there is often a similar temptation—feedback is (quite rightly) packaged into a neat box using words that are deemed constructive and appropriate.
Yet in many cases feedback is tacit and some may even be unconsciously given. If you or I were facilitating a workshop and 80% of the attendees didn’t return after a short coffee break then that is a form of feedback!. The people leaving are sending a signal, even though they may not consciously be intending to provide ‘feedback’. The fact you are reading this article now (as opposed to other articles on this blog) is a form of feedback; indeed there’s an entire discipline behind understanding web analytics and continually optimising websites.
The trouble with tacit feedback is: