I help people to stop the pain related to too much stress and anxiety and help them to get on with their lives. One way I do that is by acknowledging the importance of feedback.
Getting and giving feedback is essential to our development; it’s part of what humans needs.
Today I would like to talk about lots of areas that we need feedback, especially if we are feeling anxious or uncertain in life.
Feedback is about communication. In the communication loop someone sends us information, we receive it and send back a reply. This is feedback.
Many people who come to see me have low confidence, low self-esteem or are feeling anxious or depressed, so feedback is an essential acknowledgement to recovery.
Our bodies give us feedback. So if you are depressed or feeling anxious, your body language often portrays this. Some people look sad. Some people dress in dark colours and don’t bother with their appearance. Anxious people often breathe quickly or fidget, or have darting eye movements as they are on alert for danger. People who lack confidence and self-esteem can make their body look small or less noticeable.
We also give feedback through our speech. This could be the volume. Depressed people may speak quieter. Anxious people may be frightened to speak out so they say nothing. This may happen to people who have a fear of public speaking or feel anxious in social settings with strangers.
The tone of the voice is a way of getting feedback as well. Maybe some depressed people have a monotonous tone of voice. A very anxious person may have a higher pitch of voice. If an anxious person is suddenly confronted with their fear or phobia, such as with a fear of spiders, they may scream. This is all feedback to others.
We all give ourselves feedback. Some deep thinkers, depressed and anxious people or people with a problem will keep telling themselves negative things in their head. It’s our critical self that talks about things you should or ought to do. This has been called our mind monkey working. The problem with giving ourselves this negative-self talk is that it may not be true. This is because we assume some things. For example, if you keep telling yourself all the things that you think other people are saying about you then you are mind-reading. The truth might be that the other person is thinking about positive things about you or thinking about someone else, but you continue to give yourself this negative feedback. There are many cognitive distortions that are giving you the wrong feedback.
Lots of people tell me negative things about them which I often work out are not true either. In these cases, people who are anxious or depressed say that they aren’t very good at anything but with prompting I can usually find lots of positive things about them. It’s how they are feeling that allows them to keep telling themselves negative things.
Receiving feedback can be difficult for some people even if the feedback is complimentary. This may be because the person hasn’t had positive feedback much in the past or because they have the belief that they don’t deserve it.
But we all need to know when we do something wrong or positive feedback when we have done something right. It’s part of learning. I love to help people to learn so I would like to give you a few tips on how you can give people some positive feedback.
Firstly notice the good things. If you have a work colleague or a friend that has done something well stop and say thank you but make sure that you say what is pleasing you and why so they can accept the feedback. You could even send a kind email and acknowledge hard work. As long as the feedback is genuine and not every day this will help the person to grow.
Secondly, notice peoples body language. If someone doesn’t look their usual self then politely enquire if they are okay and if there is anything that you can help them with. Everyone has an off day but is there a pattern emerging? Acknowledge any problems or difficulties that they may be experiencing but refrain from giving lots of advice especially if you are not an expert in the subject, rather signpost them to people that can help. If it’s a health-related problem getting a check-up from a doctor is always a good idea.
So feedback is something to think about. Its always important for our health, well-being and development.