The word “recalculating” makes me laugh. I remember family car trips in the past and hearing my Dad’s external car GPS announce the word “recalculating” when he missed a turn. It happened frequently and always made me smile. It was giving feedback that we simply did something wrong and needed to make a slight shift.

Approaching feedback like a GPS

Receiving feedback can be challenging for many people for a variety of reasons.

  • For some, it can feel very personal.
  • It can feel like a hit to our worthiness for those who attach their identity to their job
  • For others, it reinforces what we already knew but hoped wasn’t apparent.
  • And so many more reasons!

What if, instead, we could view feedback as information, like the information the GPS gave after it has “recalculated?”

Accepting feedback without the personal sting

This practice is one thing that helped me earlier in my career to receive feedback without the personal sting. I try as hard as possible to receive input as information.

I hold the feedback lightly and do not deem it information related to my worthiness. Instead, I look at it as information on how I could:

  • Approach the job in a potentially better way
  • Get results easier
  • Approach something in a different way
  • Connect or collaborate with a team member to accomplish goals

The GPS isn’t commenting on my worthiness. It simply notes that I have strayed from the path and offers information on how to get back to it if my destination is still the same.

Feedback should help you recalculate

Like an old GPS, feedback provides information on how to get on track after it recalculates.

I’m not always able to hold feedback as information. After all, development is a process, as I always say. However, holding feedback as information has helped me immensely over the years.

We all need directional help

Even the best navigators can get lost when exploring new territory or a complex new route. We are often given new projects or roles that challenge us at work. They stretch us and are out of our natural depth. 

Getting feedback is like hearing “recalculating” on the GPS.

We have strayed off our path, but we can still get to our destination with a slight change. Timely feedback can be helpful to get us to our destination without too many roadblocks, wasted time, or too much emotional time spent worrying about the conditions we are currently experiencing.

Of course, the GPS is not infallible. Sometimes our destination changes or we know of a shortcut. The information we receive might not be relevant this time, but it could inform our choices in the future.

The next time you receive feedback, imagine this “recalculating” moment. It might help you receive feedback simply as information meant to help direct you on your path.