You Want to Know How Much You Suck: Why Feedback is Important

You think you want all your seniors to tell you “you’re doing a great job!”. You probably want to attempt to hide your weaknesses and pretend they aren’t there. No one will ever find out, right? No. Positive feedback is nice. It feels good to have a strength recognized. But you know what’s even better? Hearing about a weakness, so you can work on it to either make it a strength or at least reduce how much of a weakness it is.

Can’t Fight What You Don’t Know

Let’s say it’s a few Novembers ago and you’re a guy, so you have certifiably terrible facial hair because clearly you cannot be a college freshman and not participate in the annual tradition of college boys pretending like they’re men. I bet you look back at those pictures and think “Why on earth did anyone let me leave the dorm like that?” or “Well, at least now I know my girlfriend didn’t just like me for my looks”. Or maybe you now realize why your relationship didn’t survive November. I bet you wish someone in your dorm told you to stop attempting to grow a beard so you could feel some semblance of dignity upon viewing your freshman face. If not, I’m sure there’s SOMETHING in your life you now realize was stupid and wish someone told you. Like your bad hairdo phase. Or dressing up as Jar Jar Binks for Halloween. Or when you used to use the word “literally” all the time and never once use it correctly. It’s pretty hard to address a weakness if you don’t know it’s a weakness at all. Just as a football team wants to know their next opponent so they can be properly prepared for them, you want to know your weaknesses so you can take them head-on too.

More Money and Faster Promotion = Good

But hey, maybe you’re not into personal growth because screw being awesome. But maybe you like promotions and bigger paychecks. Would you prefer to hear about your weaknesses for the first time when your company tells you how much little of a raise you’re getting? Or would you rather know sooner so you can fix it or start to work on fixing it long before your annual review? Put another way, smaller raise or bigger? Not to mention the more bad habits or negative career traits you start to eradicate early, the more weaknesses you can conquer over time. If you think that any and all negative feedback will be politely tossed at you whenever relevant, that’s cute. If you believe you would never be blindsided by negative feedback during your evaluation because all of your co-workers’ #1 priority is ensuring to tell you exactly how you’re doing to your face without you asking, just stop. Stop being so hopelessly optimistic, haven’t you at least visited the real world?

Some Math

If you are still not convinced, let’s do some math. If we assume that you never ask for some constructive feedback on what you can improve on, we probably can also assume there will be a negative or two that may sneak up on your reviews. Let’s also assume that when someone tells you what you sort of suck at, you actually address it. So let’s say you not knowing and, therefore, not addressing your issues until review time gets you a raise of 4% per year. But just the extra effort to get to know your weaknesses a bit better would get you a raise of 5% per year. Only a 1% difference, right? But let’s assume this is how you operate over the first 20 years of your career and you start at a salary of $50k.

$50k at 4% raise per year ~= $110k salary 20 years later

$50k at 5% raise per year ~= $133k salary 20 years later

Not only would you have made more money each year but, 20 years down the road, you’d be making about $23k more in JUST THAT YEAR. Every little bit counts when it comes to anything that compounds. Make the extra effort to make yourself better and to make future you a richer you.

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