Facing Feedback

Feedback is hard for me. Anybody else? It isn't hard because I don't want or value feedback. I actually really appreciate it. But, I've always found feedback to be hard because my brain doesn't know how to weight it. If left to my defaults, I would think about positive feedback 4% of the time and negative feedback 96% of the time.

I'm not a particularly negative person, but I have some perfectionist tendencies (Enneagram 3. Ya feel me?) And if I'm not careful,I can fixate on a few areas that aren't perfect without celebrating the areas that are excellent. It's a big deal because this tendency to fixate on the negative doesn't just affect me. If I'm not careful, it affects my team, my peers, the students I serve, and anybody else to whom I give feedback or from whom I receive it.

That's why, for the past few years, I've employed the 10% rule. When receiving a large quantity of feedback (for example, a survey, or meeting partners we serve at a conference, or showing a presentation to 20+ coworkers), I commit to throwing out the top and bottom 10% of the feedback.


  1. You will always have raving fans. You could set the place on fire and they'd still love you. That's the top 10%. Throw it out because it isn't helpful.

  2. You will always have raving critics. They want more delivered for less money. More benefits to them, less for others. More attention on them (ahem, I’m looking at you freshman girl) and less paid to others. That kind of feedback isn’t helpful So throw that out, too.

    What we're left with is the 80% in the middle. They’ll have highs and lows, criticisms and compliments, pros and cons, but at the end of the day, those are the 80% who are genuinely trying to make it better (whatever the “it” is) and from whom we may learn something helpful.