Self-Feedback: The Art of Giving Feedback to Ourselves

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Kevin Eikenberry Kevin Eikenberry


When we think about that word, we think about giving it to someone or receiving it from someone. We don’t think about self-feedback – giving feedback to ourselves. Perhaps that will change for you after reading this article.

Self-Feedback requires no one but yourself. It is not meant to replace feedback you receive (and hopefully seek) from others, but rather enhance it, and in some cases, be the precursor for the valuable feedback you receive from others. There are three reasons it shouldn’t be a replacement:

     • Research shows humans aren’t very self-aware, so we aren’t always that accurate in our self-evaluation.

     • We can’t have a full view of the results of our behaviors – our perspective is necessarily limited.

     • We tend to see our actions through the lens of our intention, rather than the lens through which others see it.

Even given these important caveats, self-feedback can be quite valuable. Here is how to make this new source of feedback helpful.

How Self-Feedback Can Help

Yes, there are limitations, and yes, we don’t want to use it in a vacuum, yet self-feedback can help us:

     • Focus on improvement. If we are thinking about what we are doing well and/or want to improve, we are doing some internal prioritization. And we know we can’t work on everything at once.

     • Examine our motives and results. When reflecting on how something went, self-feedback comes naturally. When we own our outcomes, we naturally begin to ask ourselves what we could have done differently or better.

      • Raise our curiosity. When looking at our performance and results, we might not know how to proceed, or we may then want feedback from others. In other words, giving feedback to ourselves can lead to us asking for feedback from others.

     • Build our confidence. You’ve given yourself a pep-talk, right? This is a useful form of self-feedback.

These are powerful reasons, and why this topic is worth our exploration.

How to Use Self-Feedback

It is one thing to nod your head in agreement with the bullet points above. It is an entirely different thing to know how to create a process for giving self-feedback. Here is a four-step process to help you do it.

     1. Ask yourself. How did that __________ go? What went well? What could I have improved? Which parts surprised me about that result or interaction? Where is my weakness? Where was my confidence high (or low), and why? These are just a few sample questions to get you started.

     2. Listen to yourself. Don’t just ask yourself a rhetorical question; truly consider the questions you ask yourself and take your answers and insights to heart. Just like all other forms of feedback, for self-feedback to be helpful, it must be heard and valued.

      3. Try something. At this point you have done something, reflected on it, and thought about what you might do differently and/or do again. Now you can test it! Try something new (or repeat something you previously tried) based on the insights that came from your self-feedback.

     4. Start over. Step four is really the urging to start with step one again. This is a feedback loop, applied based on your reflection and feedback. Doing this loop creates greater self-awareness, and most likely, improved performance and results.

What about the limitations of self-feedback? The good news is that when you do the steps outlined here, you set yourself up to be more open and interested in the feedback from others. As you take your own feedback into account, with the intention of improvement, you naturally will seek out and listen to the feedback, perspective, and advice of others.

When you actively give yourself feedback and actively seek it from others as well, your performance, results, and confidence will grow, and who doesn’t want those things?

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