The Art Of Feedback

When I record for my podcast, I usually do it unscripted. I attribute this habit partly due to tardiness and partly due to my personal preference to spontaneity. I have, on numerous occasions, found that one can share more from the heart when the sharing is spontaneous.

An intelligent friend, Niti, who kindly and sincerely listens to my podcasts, gave beneficial feedback on the last episode. She could rightly note how I used a lot of umms, you know, pauses etc. She pointed out that it’ll be much more useful to me if I wrote and followed a script. I highly appreciated the feedback because it was on the spot, well-meaning and intentioned.

I could, however, note that when she gave me the feedback, there was a subconscious hesitance on her part. Owing to perhaps an earlier experience where input wasn’t taken in good stead in case of another person. It is entirely an assumption on my part. Maybe Niti, if and when she reads it can concur. This little incident got me thinking about what can be the proper way to correct someone.

I have limited experience in life and do not know much about human psychology and behavioural patterns. One thing I can emphatically say though is that each human longs for love and acceptance. Especially from the people around his/her life. It is therefore often telling how we also have the maximum potential to receive pain from those around. We are taught algebra and names and dates of historical events that may have limited significance, but not how to love ourselves and other humans.

So often, fights and arguments do not arise from the content of the words spoken but the tone of voice.

The Vaishnava school of philosophy highlights four things to keep in mind before you decide to give corrective feedback to someone.

Am I the right person to give feedback?

So often we find that older people are not just resistant to change but also take offence when a younger person tries to correct them. It doesn’t matter what the intent; maybe, some people are just not receptive to feedback from a particular individual. Brands hire a celebrity to endorse their product because an ordinary person who looks up to that celeb, would be more likely to be influenced. These are just a couple of examples. You do get the drift, right? You may need to build trust and be in a position of influence before you give corrective feedback.

Do I have the right motive to give feedback?

Do you want to give feedback to make the other person feel small, or is your feedback coming from a genuine desire for the other’s improvement? Is the feedback manipulative? More points to consider.

Do I know the right way to give feedback?

Saroj’s husband, Manoj, wanted to surprise her after work one day. He decided to treat the wife to tomato soup when she got back home. However, when Saroj tasted the soup, she realised the soup was blandβ€” Manoj had forgotten to add salt. She lovingly called Manoj and fed him a spoonful. Manoj realised that he failed to add salt. Saroj, who was tired and exhausted from work, could have criticised and ridiculed the poor husband who tried his best to please his wife. The route she took was one of smartness and empathy.

I believe humans are open to feedback. We also are sensitive creatures. If the feedback is delivered harshly, the other person usually closes themselves up to the one giving the feedback.

Is it the right time?

Critical feedback given in public can most often be taken in a negative light. That same feedback if delivered in a private conversation may yet be well received.

Sir Alex Fergusonβ€” Manchester United‘s manager for twenty-six years is one of the most extraordinary sporting personalities of all time. His managerial methods have been a subject of study at most top-level management schools in the world. I recall that Ferguson rarely criticised a player in press conferences and public. If he did, it meant the player’s career at United was over. He used to defend his players in public fiercely but, his ‘hair-dryer’ treatment to underperformers in private was a stuff of legends!

Suppose someone has poured out their heart and soul into something and another one comes and blatantly criticises it, deserving or not. In that case, it can cause a massive blow to their morale.

Words have tremendous power. πŸ™‚

A recent episode from the life of the Smiling Panda

One day I posted a tweet in response to another’s question about Buddha and Krishna. Someone I used to consider a dear friend pulled out a previous blog post of mine and replied to that tweet with an intent to pull me down. Or at least I perceived so.

I had been observing from some time the person only engaged with me in the online world when she found something to pick on or to be sarcastic. My immediate reaction was that of anger. I hadn’t even been sending her my blog posts. Neither had she ever interacted with one! Fortunately, rather than punching out my rage on the keyboard of my phone, I decided to choose a measured response. I asked her to talk to me only when she was willing to display appropriate behaviour. Well, she hasn’t spoken to me since. Good riddance, I suppose!

I was a bit disturbed the evening this incident happened. I got on a call with one of my best friends, Sheetal, and she wondered if we were too sensitive about things? I opined that it’d be better to be sensitive and not cause a chain reaction of negativity than to lap shit up and one day explode.

Sheetal’s query was answered just the next day by the Universe, which keeps tabs on our inner workings.

The next day, I shared an update posted by a college classmate in our college group for a bit of frolic. Within a few minutes of posting it, one friend texted me on personal chat and asked me to delete that post. He went something like:

“Hey, please remove that post. The others can get quite crazy with their comments sometimes….listen, I love and respect you and because I am a well-wisher that is why I have made this demand. If you think I am wrong, please forgive me.”

I was stunned and humbled by the contrast in two people and their respective approach in wanting to correct me. One chose sarcasm and ended me making me feel bad while the other corrected me in a way that’ll stay with me for life!

And via the above two incidents, the Universe itself demonstrated what technique works and what doesn’t.

Also, who gets to decide what is bearable or what is not?

How can there be a universal norm of what kind of ‘jokes’ are alright and one shouldn’t be touchy-feely about them?

2020 has marked an era where I have started establishing boundaries.

‘Do unto yourself as you do to others.’

I feel incredibly fortunate that I have understood the immense power of words. It is an ever-growing to practice to either say things that are truthful, sweet and ones that cause upliftment or not speak at all. I feel it isn’t wrong to expect the same.

Thank you for reading until the end. I hope I was able to add something new and useful to your life. God bless you with lots of sweetness and goodness.

Feedback on this post, corrective or otherwise will be highly appreciated. πŸ˜‰



  • Book: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A library between life and death that allows you to play out the different choices you could have made while living and erase regrets. Sold yet? If not allow my review to convince you.
  • Movie: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Beautiful story post World War Two about an author who falls in love with the residents of a small island. Heart warming. You can find this movie on Netflix.

2 thoughts on “The Art Of Feedback

  1. islejazz

    Loved reading this. There were so many things you pointed that I have personally experienced. There’s also this question of how frequently should we be giving ‘feedback’ to people. I am always afraid of coming across as a ‘know-it-all’ πŸ˜‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s