What Happens When Feedback Stops?

"People who ask for negative feedback, such as how they can improve, [or] adapt more quickly to new roles, report higher satisfaction, and they get higher performance reviews. They not only accelerate their learning, but they also change how other people see them."

—Sheila Heen, Author of "Thanks for the Feedback"

Why does feedback matter? Not only are there consequences to not receiving feedback about your work, but not receiving feedback can be disastrous for you or the project you’re working on. If you’re unaware about the costs of not receiving feedback, this article will give you a brief overview about what happens when feedback stops.

Key Takeaways

  • If feedback has stopped, you’ve likely pushed your team members away. Because they don’t feel comfortable sharing their perspective, you’ve stunted your ability to grow. 
  • As long as you’re creating work, feedback will always be ongoing.
  • All feedback is both a partnership and a mutual conversation.

When feedback stops, it can mean a few different things:

  1. Your work consistently meets every standard, but you've stopped growing.
  2. You've given up on creative work and have ceased to produce work at all.
  3. You're ruthlessly defensive and barricade yourself from receiving any potential feedback.
  4. You're afraid of taking risks with your work and moving beyond what you think you know.
  5. You've summited the mountain of creative mastery and never need feedback again, though you give it often. Your most recent assignment won a Nobel Prize and was established as the 8th wonder of the known world. 

When any of these things happen, your team suffers (with the exception, perhaps, of the 5th example). The conversations that are the vehicle for feedback stop; the mutual relationship that facilitates great feedback crumbles.

What happens as a result of not giving feedback?:

  1. Your projects become sloppy and they’re saturated with obvious errors.
  2. Your team doesn’t feel comfortable giving feedback even when it will make your work better.
  3. You stop learning because you think you know it all.
  4. You stop benefiting from your team's diverse perspectives. 

The editors who advise your team's creative work no longer want to suggest any changes—let alone positive changes—for fear of being met with intense opposition.

Never having to admit that there were elements of a project that could have been improved will cloak you in a momentary illusion of safety, but at what cost? Growth ceases, and stagnation sets in. The echo chamber of the mind becomes unable to accept any ideas but its own. Isolated from your team, the work that once produced joy fades into a dull ache.

When feedback stops, there is no longer a standard beyond yourself with which your work can be gauged. At that point, improvement can only happen by your own limited merit. Rare people can manage this, but to think of yourself as one of those is almost assuredly a mistake.

In order to improve, the conversation that is feedback needs to be ongoing. Masters of any craft attain mastery because they’ve spent a lot of time attentively listening to feedback that they’ve received.

It is crucial to learn to respect the perspective of your editor, as well as for your editor to listen to your response to their feedback, so that both of you can enter into a mutually beneficial creative partnership. Ultimately, you and your editor want the same thing: to produce the highest quality work possible.

If you’ve stopped receiving feedback, or if you know that you need feedback now, here is a list of 5 questions you can ask your editor to begin a feedback conversation:

Questions to Ask to Prompt Feedback:

  1. Where do you think I'm succeeding in my role?
  2. Is there any feedback you’ve been hearing from the team?
  3. What mindsets have you noticed that I can improve?
  4. Are there any standards that you’ve noticed I haven’t been meeting?
  5. Where would you like to see me focus in order to improve?


Now that you know what happens when feedback stops, read how to give feedback, and how to receive feedback!

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