So, the title of today’s post is a bit of a distractor. It isn’t so much that “How Do You Know?” was a statement I heard recently or that I’ve been thinking about. Instead, it’s an idea I have for a learning survey I hope to put together sometime soon.
I’m reading “Tell Me So I Can Hear You,” an amazing book by Eleanor Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DesSefano, and it is a great complement to “Thanks for the Feedback,” which I read earlier this summer. Drago-Severson and Blum-DeStefano approach feedback from the development lens. It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense: How can we hope to reach others if we’re constantly reaching for them in the wrong direction?
The authors spend much needed time exploring the ways of knowing, delving into instrumental, socializing, self-authoring, and self-transforming ways of knowing. In these explorations the authors also provide great examples of behaviors and feedback designs to help all of us as we move (or stay) in certain ways of knowing. Since a goal is for continuous growth, they also share “push buttons” to nudge people into other ways. It’s a great exploration into the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of feedback providing/receiving, and it gels well with other texts I’ve read recently.
As I was reading through a chapter this morning, it made me wonder about the value of us knowing our own “way of knowing.” I’m pretty sure I know where I currently “live,” but would love a survey that could be used to help me see this prior to engaging in feedback-based conversations. How cool would it be for everyone in an organization to take a survey like this? From a learner standpoint, it would be incredibly helpful to know where I stand. From a leader standpoint, it would help me structure the design for feedback conversations moving forward, making sure that the information I share, and that I ask for, meets the needs of those who I am engaging with.
One of the key ideas I am picking up on (and maybe it should have been more obvious) is the intricacies of all levels of feedback, both for the giver and receiver. We often treat feedback as “just another conversation.” And while we want our feedback to be smooth and comfortable, we don’t do justice to the depth and detail that are involved in all stages of the feedback process if we simply look at the conversation as “simple.”
I’ve grown quite a bit in terms of my giving, and receiving, feedback. I’ve learned how to better reach others, and how to take feedback I feel might be off base about my own practice, and dig deep to the underlying ideas. Nothing is more important to continuous growth than working with the feedback you’ve been given, or helping give feedback to others. Even the hardest to stomach feedback has tremendous value to our practice.
The focus on ways of knowing has been really helpful for me to see feedback in another dimension. “How Do You Know?” doesn’t have to be a question simply about the knowledge itself. It is also one that digs deep into how we truly “work” and what we need to get better at what we do.