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How Getting LESS Feedback Can Help Your Career

It is well established that getting feedback can help your career advance.

You’ve seen articles like, “5 ways feedback can boost your career” and “Top questions to get better feedback!” If you’ve worked in a larger organization, your Human Resources department may have encouraged a ‘360-degree feedback’ program, where you gather feedback from your peers, your managers, and customers to see where you could improve.

These feedback techniques are helpful and can help you learn more about yourself to improve and grow.

But I’m talking about another kind of feedback that wrecks careers: negativity.

This week, I was helping put on an event for a local non-profit and they needed help with their audio equipment. During sound check, we “mic’d up” one of the speakers and had her do some tests. We were getting horrible screeching sounds out of the system no matter where she stood on the stage.

If you’ve ever run sound for an event, you’ll recognize this: the classic feedback problem where the sound from the speakers enters the microphone and gets amplified over and over again producing terrible sounds that make people cover their ears.

The speaker looked over at us nervously – she was already nervous about her talk and now the sound system was failing. You could see on her face the negative thoughts racing through her head. “You’re going to fail. You are an impostor. There are more qualified people here to speak today, etc., etc.”

But the issue was quickly resolved with a tiny adjustment – we turned the input gain down ever so slightly to prevent the negative feedback loop. It really was that simple.

One of the issues that prevent us from reaching higher potential is we have our own negative feedback loop playing over and over, drowning out other more important thoughts. For some, it plays so often we forget it is there in the background. Even some of the most confident and capable technologists have doubts about their expertise and whether they’ll have enough to get through tough troubleshooting or a difficult situation.

When you hear the negative voice begin telling you that you are not good enough or you can’t handle it, start mentally turning that gain control down so the negativity gets softer and softer until you can’t hear it anymore and your focus sharpens on your work. This mental discipline is difficult but once you master it, you will immensely benefit your career.