Accepting Feedback: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part 1)

A lot has been written about giving feedback, but what about receiving it? Many judges focus on preparing quality feedback and sharing it with the recipient through reviews, exemplars, and conversations. What happens to that feedback after it is shared?

Sometimes it can be implemented immediately. Sometimes it is dismissed as incorrect or irrelevant. Sometimes it’s earmarked for an arbitrary ‘later,’ and promptly forgotten. Even the best feedback can go in one ear and out the other if the recipient does not invest some time and effort in accepting it and translating it into useful, actionable guidance.

Feedback arrives in many forms and can be subdivided in innumerable ways, but for the purpose of this conversation, we’re going to define three types of feedback: good, bad, and ugly. Good feedback refers to what we commonly call strengths or things that went well. Bad feedback addresses areas for improvement. Ugly feedback encompasses feedback that is confusing, convoluted, or just plain wrong. In this article, we’re going to focus on good feedback. (But don’t worry, we’ll come back to bad and ugly feedback in future posts!)

Everyone enjoys hearing that they did well. But then what?  Do we smile and go on with our day? Does that feedback actually impact what we do in the future?

Most judges look to the “Areas for Improvement” section of their reviews in search of changes to make or things to do differently. However, let’s first explore a few ways to actively engage with positive feedback and allow it to shape future changes in our judge behavior.

Ask “Why?”

When someone gives you praise for a specific thing, stop and ask why. Obviously it impacted that person enough for them to mention it in a review. What made it stand out? How did you do it differently that you have done it in the past? How is it unique from the way other judges do it? What details or facets have you recently changed?

For example, you Head Judge a local PPTQ and the floor judge mentions that your opening announcements were really great. Ask him “why?” What specifically caught his attention? Maybe it was that you remembered to point out the restroom location since they are difficult to find at this store. Maybe it’s that you spoke up loudly enough for even the players in the back to hear. Perhaps the organization of your information was better than the HJ he had at the last PPTQ.  Sometimes it might be that it was just an overall feeling, but generally the person providing you the feedback can add more details, . . . if you ask!

Make it a habit.

If you did it right, and it was worth mentioning, it’s probably also worth repeating. Make note of the consistent behaviors for which you receive positive feedback. Do your customer service skills shine? Are you always the fastest deck checker in the room? Do other judges continually ask your secret to remembering layers? Identify the areas in which you excel, and commit to continuing that success. You might even find that an unintentional behavior achieved great results and you want to emulate it next time.

For example, when I was tasked with redesigning registration for an event, I spent time at the end of each shift doing an individual debrief with each staff member. I intended that few minutes to be a time to give and receive feedback that would allow me to improve the process. I later received a number of reviews and even an exemplar mentioning that judges really liked these little chats. Since then I have added them as a regular part of my team leading, even when I’m not retooling a process.

Expand it.

Take your positive feedback a step further by finding more ways to use your talents. If you are particularly good at a task you may be able to teach it to other judges, offer insight to TOs, or join a project to share your ideas. Of course we need to work on improving our weak areas, but working with our strengths provides a lot of value as well.

For example, if you find yourself mentoring several new judges and your Area Captain mentions you are a talented mentor, perhaps you should consider presenting on mentorship techniques at your next regional judge conference. Or you could write an article about mentoring new candidates for a judge blog or perhaps host a judge breakfast a local store for new judges.

There are many possibilities for how to use positive feedback to impact and improve your judging, so the next time you someone says you did well, take a deeper look at that feedback and determine how you can best apply that observation.

Whatever you decide to do with your positive feedback, do something!

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