The One Where the Happy Sheet Wasn’t

Last week I received some negative feedback about a course I’d delivered, and it stung. I’d worked darn hard setting up the session, been flexible in the delivery to suit the group and been generous with my time over my (tiny) lunch break and after the course had finished.

And yet…. one person….

When I realised how wounded I felt, it pulled me up short. Hang on! Why do we trainers ask for feedback, if all we really mean is “please reaffirm to me that I did a great job”? NO! We ask for feedback for sound reasons:

  • Did the participants get what they needed?
  • Did we give our client what they asked us to?
  • What difference is it going to make?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What would I do differently next time?

All good stuff, but even knowing this ‘intellectually’, I still felt peeved. Why had the participant not piped up at the time? Why raise THAT point with me when it wasn’t within my remit? Go on! Admit you shouldn’t have been on the course in the first place!

Plus, as one so often does, I’d completely disregarded the fact that all other feedback from the group was overwhelmingly positive.

Oh dear. Poor little me.

Up until now, trainers have been among a relatively small group of professionals routinely inviting feedback right after delivering a piece of work. But that’s changing fast. Trip Advisor, Google Reviews, Trustpilot and wider social media are all making our customers more vocal about the quality of the service they’ve received, sometimes moments after completing a transaction online or ending a phone call with a helpline.

So now I’ve stopped feeling all prickly and uppity, I’m reminding myself that it is in my – and your – best interests to be able to take feedback on the chin. I’m reminding myself…

  • That feedback is a gift, and one I can choose to accept or not. But if I refuse to accept it, who is that really hurting?
  • To enjoy the positive comments, of course, but be gracious and – yes – grateful for remarks that contain difficult truths.

  • To accept where I could have done things differently to meet someone’s needs better.

  • To recognise that I can only be responsible for my side of the communication partnership. I am not a mind reader.

  • To understand that in a large group it’s not always possible to meet everyone’s needs as they’re presented on the day – though I’ll always give it my best shot.

  • That if I take that feedback on board, it will help me raise my game another notch.

  • And yes, that I need to practice what I preach. (Ouch!)

Receiving unpalatable feedback with honesty and good grace delivers lessons that compliments and thankyous – lovely as they are – can rarely match.

So, thank you for the feedback. It’s just what this snowflake needed to read.

*Happy Sheet: Trainer-speak for the evaluation forms handed out at the end of a training workshop.

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