1 min read

Getting feedback

I read Models last week, taking it with a huge grain of salt. Some of it is junk, there is a good amount of useful information and prompting in there. One of the key concepts of the book is neediness vs. non-neediness.

Models frames this concept in terms of investment. I'll talk about this in terms of a hypothetical Bob. As the book describes it, if Bob is needy that means Bob cares more about other people's opinions of Bob than about his own opinion of himself. If Bob is non-needy, that means the opposite: Bob cares more about his own opinion of himself than about other peoples' opinions of Bob. The book dedicates a whole chapter to elaborating on this basic idea and distinguishing it from mere selfishness. It takes a lot of work and examples.

I wonder about this concept of neediness in the context of supervising and getting feedback on how I'm doing it. How do I know if I'm doing a good job? Only my report would know, so I'd have to ask them. But then I'm asking for feedback. Generally that would imply I care — am invested in — what the feedback is. How could I ask and receive this in a non-needy, non-manipulative way? It seems like a contradiction in terms.

I think an answer might be: I set up the question wrong. As asked it can't be answered. Seeking to know if you're doing a good job is needy behavior. It is looking for validation. It's thinking of yourself. Maybe it is better to ask the report: What are you getting? What are you missing? If you could change one thing, what would it be? In other words, find out how things are working for them. Don't rush and commit to doing anything in particular in exchange for validation. Remember the answer. Write it down. Take it under consideration. Take it as a real and valid representation of that person's experience. Don't take it as a final, authoritative assessment of my work.

You know, like in fiction-writing and critiquing. You-the-writer are the final arbiter. You take from your feedback what seems useful in terms of whatever you are trying to do with your story.

That might be a workable solution.