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Oct '05

Three Cheers for Feedback!

Recently I went to a seminar for work about giving and receiving feedback. Actually, it was called “Receiving and Giving the Gift of Feedback,” and it emphasized how feedback is information that helps people align their actions with their goals, and that it is a wonderful, charitable thing to throw around–so long as you’re doing it with the intent to help the victim, I mean other person. One of the main things we talked about is that good feedback is often frank feedback.

The greatest learning disability in organizations today is the inability to give and receive candid feedback.

So then a loud, portly man in a red t-shirt threw up his hand and asked, “Does this apply to spouses, too? I mean, if my wife says, ‘Does this dress make me look fat,’ I can say, ‘Yes’–right?”

To which the Wise Instructor Man paused, smiled faintly, and said, “No, there are special rules for spouses.” And he went on to explain that the feedback you give is for their benefit, not yours. How would your criticism help your spouse toward his or her goals? That put Portly Man in his place, I’m happy to say.

Since the seminar, I’ve had some real-life experience with giving and receiving feedback. We just signed up with a new insurance company, ANPAC. I had a question about our policy, so I went to their Web site, www.anpac.com. I was shocked by its poor design. Check it out yourself and you’ll see what I mean. I had zero success finding what I was looking for, but I managed to stumble into their “Contact Us” page and wrote them an email explaining what a hard time I had navigating through their trashy Web site, and could they possibly hire several experienced Web designers to fix it?

To my great surprise, they emailed me back and said that they appreciated my email and wanted some specific suggestions for their Web team. Together, John and I compiled a long list of improvements necessary, including losing the giant graphic of the eagle that’s smack in the center of the page, even though it is patriotic with a waving flag and says “God Bless America.”

A week later I got a box in the mail from our insurance company. I hoped it wasn’t policy a update, because it was a rather hefty box for that. I opened it up and discovered that ANPAC had sent me my very own ANPAC-embroidered cap, chip clip, and awesome blue mug that says, “ANPAC: Making the Most of Your Insurance Dollars.” (I love, by the way, that they are basically admitting that they’re using your insurance dollars to produce blue mugs that they give away to customers who complain about their Web site.) Oh, and did I mention that they sent me a hand-written note? It was even in neat cursive writing with a real signature at the bottom, thanking me again for my feedback.

So the moral of this story is: Give feedback and if it’s received well, you might earn yourself free stuff! I can live with that.


2 Responses to “Three Cheers for Feedback!”

  1. mom Says:

    Bummer. They must have taken your advice because I just visited their site, all geared up to see that Eagle, only to find a tasteful informative and functional site. Thanks a *lot* for the cool feedback. Now I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what that Patriotic Eagle looked like. I’ll probably even dream about it, only to awake to face the world vacant of Patriotic Eagles….unless I can figure out how to find the Internet Archives that Kim Kommando talked about. My New Quest…..Find The Patriotic Eagle.

  2. Administrator's Wife Says:

    Sorry, I guess they already updated their Web site.

    But you’re not missing anything. Really. It was that bad.

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