Feedback and the Frightening Hall of Academia.

The afternoon began with me receiving feedback on my assumptions of learning paper, and then learning to give and receive feedback with Hilary Leighton the same instructor who facilitated the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

It’s always a little humbling to receive that first bout of feedback. Especially when you come from a professional communications background and the writing is not your best work (in fact I was asked if English is my first language shame Paradis). Actually I am a little freaked out by this…I wanted to write my thesis so that nasty little voice of doubt is telling me I am not ready to do this. So that’s what I mean by the frightening hall of Academia–I feel a little intimidated as I usually perform well at writing–and this time I did not.

Onto how feedback is a useful process. I realise this is backwards but it is the order of events for me, so the arrangement is meaningful.

We began with the application of some biofeedback dots. I was amber tense and then green. Blue for a little while–which is considered very calm.

We learned overall concepts to apply when you are going to give feedback:

  • Takes conscious awareness and thinking through the situation.
  • Be very specific
  • Be authentic in giving and receiving

Ms. Leighton’s tips for giving the right feedback:

  • make sure you are talking to the right person
  • privacy–private space
  • think about culture, gender, and age
  • give information, not advice (ask questions i.e. what do you think you would do differently or how would you most like to do this)
  • expectations NOT personal preferences

When you are receiving feedback:

  • putting into perspective (it is theirs, its not that you are a screw up. Here’s opportunity)
  • validate someones emotions
  • listen well
  • remain vulnerable

Also, Ms. Leighton is quite a unique character and always very interesting to listen too. She told us about a visions quest she was on–four days without food, no more details were provided, but after the four days she realised, “I may not be perfect but I am perfectly myself.

Other great Ms. Leighton sayings:

“What someone thinks of me is none of my business”

“we wouldn’t have had fire if cavemen liked jellied chicken”

“If there is someone in your life who can really see or hear you–that might be the true definition of love”

Ms. Leighton provided us with a model for communication that I really liked:

  • Ask: What is going on for you right now
  • Listen: To what they have to say
  • Share: Don’t be closed off or the other person cannot be open
  • Always check-in and don’t assume you know what is wrong with them or know their feelings.

In reflection I was surprised how much feedback affected me I tried to remain open but I think I was disappointed with myself for achieving below what I believe I can.  It’s also a little embarrassing. I need to do as Hilary recommended and remain open. I need to take this as an opportunity to show what I am capable of.

On a side note: I have a little bit of extrinsic motivation going on here–I want to prove myself to others. How should I shift this to intrinsic?


Leighton, H. personal communication, July 26, 2012.


10 thoughts on “Feedback and the Frightening Hall of Academia.

  1. Danielle

    Your review of the giving and receiving feedback session was terrific. I love that you captured the sayings… I personally really appreciate Hillary’s energy, excitement and openness with sharing her adventures and herself with us.

    I see that openness and willingness to share as an example of what I want to take into my paper review. (Mine is tomorrow) I am feeling very nervous as I hear the positive feedback others have received, the challenging feedback some (including yourself) have received. Based on your post, I have started analyzing why I feel this trepidation.

    Do I continue to have imposter syndrome and feel like I am about to be busted?
    Is it because I want people to think I did well and praise me for it (external motivation)?
    Is it because I really want to do well for myself (internal motivation)?
    And then I wondered if it is really the feedback which is the issue or my response to it?
    In other words, do I want to fix my paper (I’m assuming here there will be direction to do so!) so I will be validated externally and get a good mark OR because I want to do it well for my own sake?

    I don’t know. I will have to take the time to listen to myself as I receive the feedback and in my response to it. What I do know is that I want to take forward the lesson today of being open to the feedback. This and the motivation theory talk today together reminded me of a great quote which when I looked up seemed even more applicable:

    “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
    Viktor E. Frankl (found on Brainy – see below)

    To me we are all in the process of growth and by taking the time and space to consider the feedback we receive (stimulus) before we make our reaction (response) we have the power to create what we wish.

    Thanks for helping me think through this!


    Frankl quote:

  2. Danielle,

    What’s with the extrinsic motivation and trying to prove yourself, I think we can all agree your one of the brightest 20 something’s we’ve met! Joking aside, I know a part of all of us is here for the same reason as you stated, but I also think there are other things that have motivated us to be here. Honestly, I can say that was my initial push to look into graduate studies, but as I started to look into programs I found myself getting really excited about possible areas of study, and here I am! I also wanted to refer to Hilary’s quote in my post yesterday, “What someone thinks of me is none of my business”. Easier said than done but it is something to keep in the back of your mind, by this point we are all successful and accomplished individuals and we don’t need to worry about what others are thinking of us.

    The thing I try to do with my students is try to shift their external motivation, which is usually around marks, or earning the certification to get a job so they can make money, towards thinking about what the education can do for them beyond those external factors. I try to emphasize to my students the important part they will play in patient’s healthcare, and how vital their skills and knowledge are to the medical community with doctors relying on their work and results to make decisions about diagnosis and treatment. It is important to consider what is in this program for you, what skills you see yourself leaving the end of the two years with and how you will apply the knowledge you will have built.

    As Lisa has mentioned many times over, we will see a change in ourselves as we work through the program, I think as we go on there will be a point at which each of us will find what we are looking to get out of the program and how it will change our lives, either personally, professionally, or both. Also so true what Jenn just said, “we are all in the process of growth and by taking the time and space to consider the feedback we receive (stimulus) before we make our reaction (response) we have the power to create what we wish.” This is how we have to take any feedback and approach it as an opportunity to create another masterpiece.

    On a side note: You’re going to write your thesis !

    • Thank you Anoop you made some really good points. I sort of have a perfection complex and I really hate the aspects of me that I do not perceive as good. It can be a little exhausting but I feel uncomfortable otherwise–as though I am not trying hard enough.

    • I feel that intrinsic motivation would be more sustainable over the long-term. Being motivated by rewards and other people’s perceptions of me is a shallow twenty-something idea that I feel I should grow out of. In addition, deeper learning usually happens through intrinsic motivation.

  3. Hello Danielle,
    I just had the opportunity to read you post and I must tell you that I enjoyed your summary of that lecture as well as your openness about your personal feelings about your writing abilities, personal inventory style and even your imposter syndrome. This moved me and I would like to put in my two cents for what it is worth.

    In order not to post a novel in your comment area I will address the extrinsic /intrinsic thing, you have to look at why you want to prove yourself to others. Is it because you need to justify your age? Do you feel that you need to justify your experience? These are rhetorical questions but ones that you need to look deep to consider.

    I say this because for many years I have had the extrinsic thing happening with the whole “hair stylist” stigma that I felt was put on me. So even as I worked my way through various programs of study to increase my knowledge and experience (graduating with honours) I was doing it to “prove” to others that I am more than a hairstylist and what I discovered was that I was the person attaching that stigma to myself. So I was working hard on an external focus when I was really fighting an internal battle.

    Therefore if you are up-grading yourself for others, even when you get fabulous grades it will not be enough as you will always be unsure if it is really enough. It takes time to step back and truly identify what you want, and where you want to be. For me it took my father passing away, that forced me to look at what I wanted in life, what experiences I wanted to have.

    Sure I still feel that stigma come up every once in awhile but as you have pointed out what Ms. Leighton says “What someone thinks of me is none of my business.”

    I hope this helps and don’t let one less than great critique put you down no-one got perfect! And if they did in the first two weeks of school, why are they here?

  4. I came across this quote from Socrates and thought of you: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” The world “should” automatically creates a dynamic of fighting the old. Perhaps using the word “will” instead can change that energy. Try it on a few sentences and let me know what you think.

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