Avoid Feedback from These 3 People


Question—have you ever tossed your annual review in the trash, without reading it, within seconds of it landing in your hands?

I have…twice actually. I can explain…but a little later.

As a society, we have become so fixated on the idea of receiving feedback, or the practice of someone offering their opinion about another person, based on performance. And feedback channels seem to be popping up everywhere that they are beginning to go unnoticed. From electronic bracelets that track our footsteps to smartphones that monitor the rhythm of our heart, feedback is the new norm.

Work too?
And we’re not safe at work either. As a matter of fact, we are even more prone to receiving feedback in our careers than ever before. Just ask someone in their 50’s if they ever had this many performance reviews, check-ins, touch-bases, VOC surveys, 360 reviews, follow-ups, MBRs, QBRs, postmortems and whatever other buzzword created to mean one thing and one thing only—feedback.

Yet there’s something missing from the feedback equation. That is—feedback avoidance.

Even when I googled “avoid feedback,” the entire first page of results referenced avoiding noise feedback in audio equipment. Clearly, avoiding another person’s feedback is not a very popular concept.

I have come to find that most people are not qualified to express their opinion of you. I will admit that it sounds a bit arrogant for me to make that claim. However, the honest truth is that—feedback from unqualified sources will likely cause you to examine yourself for flaws that aren’t there or may not be significant enough to warrant a change (all humans have something).

Avoid feedback from these 3 people:

1. The Outsider – Where possible, make it a priority to understand as much about a person’s life experiences before accepting feedback from them. Otherwise, you can end up being a victim of someone’s limited perspective simply because they cannot relate with your views.For instance, I once received feedback from a trusted colleague who, for good reason in his mind, discouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship endeavors. Now on the surface it sounds like honest advice from a friend who is only trying to help. Until you find out that he experienced tremendous financial strain as child due to his father’s failed entrepreneurial pursuits. Now under the context of that childhood experience, it makes perfect sense that he would be antagonistic to the idea of someone he cared about creating start-up. The good news is that I recognized his bias, ignored his feedback and went on to profitably run a marketing agency.

Quick sidebar: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you should only seek feedback from like-minded individuals. Having someone who understands you while opposing your idea is totally different than someone who just doesn’t get you. The goal is to avoid feedback from someone who clearly would not understand you or your perspective.

2. The Hater – (because we all have them) I beg you to please make sure that the person you get feedback from has virtually nothing to gain or lose by providing you honest and constructive feedback. Otherwise, you may find yourself doubting your abilities because of the negative opinion of someone who does not have your best interest in mind. The hardest part though, is uncovering this before you have already received feedback from this person. More often than not, you will get burned once before you actually find out their true intentions (only fools get burned twice right?).

The “Dragon Lady” story: I once had a boss (more like, animal) that capitalized on every opportunity to criticize me for any error I made, regardless of how small it was. The problem, as I eventually discovered, was not that I was bad at my job but that I was good, too good. It was not until the big boss (her boss) revealed to me that I was doing such a great job that in the very near future I could eventually get promoted to be on the same level as my direct boss. Before that revelation, her negativity almost had me thinking that I was a step away from being fired. However, jealousy and fear provoked my boss to disparage me, at times publicly, in hopes crushing my ambition and stopping my ascent. Nevertheless, my positive thinking prevailed and I employed my most impenetrable defense mechanism yet—feedback avoidance in which, I completely ignored any and all feedback she provided, no exceptions.

Now about those two annual reviews…
Although positive (confirmed by my payout), upon reviewing the bonus payout portion, I immediately crumbled and tossed my review into the trashcan to ensure that I never read the written portion, which was her assessment (or feedback) of my annual performance.

Extreme?…maybe. Necessary?…heck yeah! Frankly, it was the only way to ensure that I did not go back to doubting my wonderful, God-given talents as a result of a bona fide hater.

3. The Grouch – We all know them. This is the one that will find any reason to complain about anything. Free lunch day at work—he will be the one complaining about the quality of the silverware while at the same time, helping himself to ginormous portions of the free lasagna. I will keep this one really simple—stay away from this person…even beyond getting feedback. Why would you waste your time with someone who is always negative about life? Bad company corrupts good character so do yourself a favor and avoid their feedback and if possible, avoid spending extensive time with them. Why (as if you still need to be convinced)? Because every minute you spend (waste) with them, is one less minute that could be well spent with someone else or doing something that enriches your life.

Constructive feedback = a good thing:
Constructive feedback is usually a life-changing event that I admittedly need more of. However, ignoring, and where possible, avoiding feedback from those that are unqualified is a strategy that has helped me reach, and continue to reach, amazing heights in my life. You should try it.

So I will leave you with a charge; if you ever suffered from the feedback of an unqualified source, and you do not mind sharing that experience, please leave a comment below. I am no expert—I just did what I felt necessary to maintain a healthy spiritual, mental and emotional lifestyle. So go ahead, help someone by sharing your experience.



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6 comments on “Avoid Feedback from These 3 People

  1. Jeremiah Walls says:

    As a recent graduate from Law School I had to understand very quickly the importance of ignoring some people’s feedback. The measures you have taken to avoid feedback are impressive, completely understandable, and in your case, necessary. By avoiding feedback from unqualified sources, you’ve been able to amass many feats and I’m sure you will keep that streak going. Halfway through the article, I was going to caution you to keep your mind open to receive feedback from someone who genuinely wants to help, but you wiped away all of my concerns when you stated that constructive feedback is a valuable tool.

    Kudos and great advice. I have many stories but probably too many to share for a single comment. However, I would say that I have also taken great measures to avoid the negativity that others attempt to project upon me. And it has suited me very well with my most recent accomplishment–graduating as a top student of my law school class.

    • Steele A. Champion says:

      Jeremiah—first and foremost, congratulations on graduating top of class from law school…that’s a huge accomplishment! Thank you for sharing your feedback and I am glad that you found this article helpful. You are correct in that I needed to resort to “extreme” measures to make sure that I did not lose focus. Cheers and keep stopping by – Steele

  2. Sky says:

    This was a very helpful article. I had a similar experience where my previous manager gave me a hard time for EVERYTHING I did and most of the time it was not a mistake. I could not understand why she picked on me so much but someone told me that she did not want to hire me because I have an MBA and she doesn’t but the division VP really liked me. So I guess she felt threatened by my education but I was not interested in taking her position and I told her that eventually I was more interested in marketing but I guess she did not believe me. Oh well, I got a better job offer from another company and moved on. The iroy is that I heard that she was recently let go.

    The lesson I learned (after the fact) was to focus on my strengths and understand that some people are not giving you feedback out of help but more out of jealousy. So you have to be comfortable with yourself in order to climb the ladder because the higher you get, the more haters will come out against you.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Steele. Love the site.

    • Steele A. Champion says:

      Sky–thanks for sharing your experience. I would say that you’re dead on in that being comfortable with yourself to ignore negativity and keep pressing on. Unfortunately there will be “haters” every step of the way but I use them as fuel to keep proving them wrong. Anyways, thanks again and continue to stop by. – Steele

  3. L Ross says:

    Unfortunately my family has given me the most negative feedback and I know that they are trying to tell me what they believe is best, it ends up be their bias opinion of the decisions I have chosen to make for my life. The best advice I would give anyone is to focus on your goals, block out all naysayers and encourage yourself when no one is around to encourage you. Steele has resorted to throwing away his annual reviews in order to preserve a focused mindset; I would d say do whatever it takes to preserve your focus. Nice post Steele

  4. Steele A. Champion says:

    L Ross, I am grateful for you sharing your experience about some of the worse feedback anyone can receive–that is, from a family member or loved one. The intent may be pure but their opinion(s) can be stifling and unwarranted nonetheless. When dealing with my family at times, I often resort to keeping some things to myself until they come to fruition because I realized early on that some people will only believe when they see. Keep striving and thanks again for sharing your experience. –Steele

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