I like to think I don’t complain so much as give ‘constructive criticism’ in order to help that service or product or person grow and develop.
Recently Keivor and I went for a pub meal and neither of us could finish the food because it was too salty. When the waitress cleared our plates and asked if everything was ok, we donned our ‘businesses need to know where they are going wrong so they can improve’ hats and told her our opinion. Moments later as we got up to leave we saw the chef emerge from the kitchen and stare at us from across the room. No ‘thanks for the feedback guys, I’ll take that into consideration’ or ‘I’m sorry it wasn’t as you’d hoped, we hope you’ll come back in future.’ Just a stare… I got the feeling the constructive criticism hadn’t gone down too well.
Am I now complaining about the chef’s response? Who knows. But what I do know is that a lot of the time our opinions about an experience go unheard, perhaps because we feel too concerned about upsetting people or sounding arrogant, but also because people don’t feel able to take it onboard.
I believe if feedback is given in a loving and kind way, without a desire to hurt the receiver, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give a person. Recently I attended a talk by Duncan Lewin who talked about feedback, and actually asking for feedback and feeling into the emotions that come up when we hear less than perfect comments.
Taking feedback (from a loving and kind place) on board without armour up ready to bat away anything negative, and just being with the emotion aids growth, learning, connection, openness and innovation.
Who knows if that chef had come over to our table, chatted to us a bit, learnt that we loved the pub, the vibe, the drinks, the music, the presentation of the food, the menu options and that we’d definitely come back if he eased off of the sodium chloride, he’d have invited connection, growth and potentially two new and loyal customers into his life.
Sadly however that didn’t happen, and we’ve found another pub to eat in. But as I ponder all this it reminds me of that age old saying – ‘the fear of something is often worse than the experience itself.’ I resist going out there to get honest feedback because I’m scared of the way it will feel to hear, but perhaps now is the time to ask for it. So, << Test First Name >>, if you have any constructive feedback for me, that comes from a loving place, I’d LOVE to hear it.