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Feedback and Happiness

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Believe it or not, frequent feedback leads to frequent happiness. Why?

Here are five principles of happiness that feedback delivers for you:

Principle #1: Feedback reduces stress Whether you are the feedback giver, receiver, or both, sharing feedback on a frequent basis–what I call “doing everyday feedback”—desensitizes it so that you and your co-workers don’t think of it as a big deal. Evidence of this is that people who are used to exchanging feedback stop feeling the need to go into an office with a closed door before making observations and suggestions. They’ll share feedback in the hall outside a meeting, in an open area, standing up, on break, or any time or day of the week. Fear and dread are eliminated when everyone’s open with feedback that helps both co-workers and the company grow.

Principle #2: Feedback fuels friendship at work Now this really goes against common wisdom: Feedback makes it easy to like your manager, employee, or co-worker! When you and the other person are talking more openly and you’re comfortable with frequent honest feedback conversations, you trust them more and you are more likely to respect them. If you’re a manager who’s nervous about upsetting an employee, get up the nerve to bring up a feedback topic and focus on how that employee can be more successful. You’ll probably be surprised at what a relief it is. If you’re an employee who senses something tense in your relationship or if you have suggestions you wish you felt comfortable sharing with your boss, get up the nerve to have those conversations. You’ll probably be surprised at how smoothly it goes and how your manager will actually appreciate your courage. You will go home relaxed, with the knowledge that you know what the other person is thinking and you will trust that your manager or employee will bring these things up more readily next time.

Principle #3: Feedback creates a satisfying level of challenge High-performers, younger workers, and/or ambitious workers of all ages are begging for meaningful work and learning opportunities. When you give them frequent feedback—and they’re feeling that you care, you are essentially coaching them to develop their career and feel more pride in what they’re learning. When the feedback is frequent and they can ask questions when they get stuck, you have found just the right level of challenge to motivate them and feel happy with what they are learning.

Principle #4: Feedback offers appreciation Honest feedback will, of course, involve positive, appreciative comments between co-workers, bosses, and employees. Cultivating appreciation is one of the most commonly identified methods of attaining happiness at work, at home, or anywhere. Since feedback must include appreciation (people have to understand what they do well to be able to do more of it!), then, you will be fueling a virtuous cycle of happiness for yourself and the entire team.

Principle #5: Feedback inspires people to try new things  If feedback is good, there’s usually a little surprise twist somewhere that can be a good thing. There’s a skill or shortcut that a lot of other people know and you never knew existed. You assumed people understood something that’s easy for you and you find out you need to slow down and explain better. There’s a body of information, a reference you can find online, or an expert you can tap in order to fill in the missing information. You know you can get better and better if you master these new skills and you are determined to learn them right away!

Pretty soon, you will have an odd feeling: Feedback makes you happier!

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