Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” The nuance of this quote is in the crucial phrase, “when you know better.” Human nature tends to align with our own decisions, and to truly “know better,” we often require feedback from others. There are several steps we can take collectively to ensure that we “know better” and, consequently, “do better.”
- Seek Feedback: Whether it’s after meetings, calls, brainstorming sessions, or reviewing written content – it’s important to actively seek nitpicking. Invite constructive criticism to gain diverse perspectives.
- Appreciate Feedback: Recognize that feedback is a valuable gift. Constructive feedback is not always easy to give, especially to those who are defensive. Avoid defensiveness to foster relationships where feedback flows freely, facilitating continuous improvement.
Professional athletes exemplify the mentality of always striving to “do better.” They embrace feedback from coaches and teammates, understanding that critiques are about actions, not personal attacks. In non-athletic settings, delivering and receiving direct feedback can be challenging. Adopting principles from the Netflix culture, known as the 4As of feedback, can guide this process:
o Aim to Assist– Provide feedback with the intention of guiding improvement rather than expressing frustration.
o Actionable– Ensure that the feedback is clear and actionable, allowing the recipient to understand how to “do better.”
o Appreciate– Acknowledge the effort it takes to provide feedback. Recognize that it is a gift aimed at collective success. Feedback is a gift.
o Accept or Discard– Empower the recipient to choose whether to accept the feedback and make changes or discard it. Avoid making immediate decisions; take time to process and respond.
In an episode of “At the Table with Patrick Lencioni” titled “Liar Liar,” Lencioni explores a business culture where truth-telling is uncommon. This podcast underscores the importance of honest feedback and emphasizes that false positives can damage credibility when delivering positive or negative feedback.
The key suggestion is to actively seek feedback in areas where you might not typically look for it. Embrace the opportunity to be nitpicked, as it fosters continuous improvement.