Dealing with Feedback Anxiety and Switching Things Up

Feedback Anxiety

Have you ever learned something at work that turned out to be helpful in your personal life too? My wife, Sally, is taking a course toward a professional certification. Once a month the class has an observation session where they each receive feedback from their instructor and their fellow students. These sessions caused a good deal of anxiety for Sally (as I think they would for most people) and I wanted to help her with that anxiety. Fortunately for me, LearningBridge has recently started a podcast called Simply Feedback, and I suggested that she listen to a few of the episodes. Our very first episode, “Generative Feedback,” was especially relevant for Sally.

The observation sessions in her class were quite stressful, and she was clearly having a “fight or flight” response to this feedback opportunity. Her response made it difficult for her to really hear the feedback from her teacher and her classmates and incorporate it into her learning. Having recently had the opportunity to interview my colleague, Glade, for the podcast episode, I knew that there were several techniques Sally could use to work towards a more measured, generative response to the feedback she was receiving. Instead of letting the feedback opportunity cause her stress, she could use the feedback to grow and become more proficient as she worked toward her certification. Sally enjoyed listening to the episode, and while the feedback sessions are still slightly stressful, she now has tools that she can use to handle them successfully.

Podcast Beginnings and Lessons Learned

Troy Blaser - Host of Simply FeedbackThe idea for the Simply Feedback podcast came as the LearningBridge team was brainstorming together about nine months ago. Since that initial brainstorm, we have spent hours learning how to produce a podcast, interviewing guests, and putting the final product together to create each podcast episode. I have been lucky enough to host the podcast, and along with the personal life application shared above, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned during this exciting project.

Amazing Colleagues and Clients

One of the first things I’ve learned is that LearningBridge is fortunate to work with a wide variety of amazing colleagues and clients. As with the “Generative Feedback” episode, I’ve been able to hear and learn from guests with many different perspectives on how feedback can be used beneficially in our professional and personal lives. We have been able to learn about ways to use feedback to understand diversity in the workplace, how feedback was used to inform the writing of two different books, and how to make the workplace less toxic and even have a touch of humanity! We have a long list of potential guests, and I look forward to more interesting conversations to come.

In each episode, I try to ask the guests about a moment when they have seen feedback be especially important—either in their own lives or as they have observed someone else. I’ve heard touching personal stories as well as times when feedback has marked a significant turning point for someone professionally.

Doing Something New

I have also learned a lot about how to create a podcast. In fact, it has been a learning process for the whole team. We have had to figure out the right processes to produce the best podcast. For example, we had to figure out the workflows around the guest—what is the best way to extend the initial invitation? What meetings do we need to have prior to the actual interview? It has taken us a few tries to get the technology right as well. (And I think we are still learning about that part as we go!) We have experimented with different microphones and other hardware, tried different recording apps, worked with complicated sound editing software, and learned about how to host and publish it to all the right places online.

Naturally, there are aspects of the production that we have become much more proficient at managing; however, we still ask ourselves if it is the best use of a given individual’s time to work on a particular aspect. Sometimes it makes more sense to outsource. I think our clients can relate to that idea in working with us. Running a feedback program can be new territory for some clients, and they have to work out the right balance in terms of how much they manage vs. what they have LearningBridge manage in order to keep their team focused on their specific areas of expertise.

That said, for me as a developer, I have found it invigorating to work on the podcast. It’s outside of my comfort zone, but it is exciting to research the next guest and conduct the interview each month. It is energizing for me to exercise different thinking muscles and relax my coding muscles for a moment as I try to think quickly on my feet as an interviewer to ask meaningful questions and pay attention to the answers while thinking of the next question.

So if you haven’t heard of our Simply Feedback podcast yet, check it out sometime at simplyfeedback.learningbridge.com. You’ll find interesting people and interesting conversations about the importance of feedback and how you can use it professionally and personally. Some of the discussions could spark conversations with your own team, thoughts about your career trajectory, or even motivate you to switch up your own work for a while and exercise some new thinking muscles!