Real Human Beings read Feedback

man sheltering his head with a book while papers fall all around him

“Do to others as you would have them do to you…unless you’re giving anonymous feedback online. Then let them have it!”

-Contemporary Modern Translation (CMT)

A friend of mine recently shared her experience reviewing survey data from her organization’s yearly event that is attended by thousands of people. “People send in their surveys anonymously, and it is like they don’t realize that an actual real human being is going to have to read them. Some of the feedback is really nasty…”

“Real human beings” read anonymous surveys.

Did you catch that?

Just making sure.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

The golden rule applies directly to anonymous feedback. On a personal level, I resist anonymity by making it clear who is writing what I am writing. Or, I fill out the contact information so that the person or organization knows where the feedback is coming from. This way, I am held accountable for what I am saying, especially if I am saying something difficult (i.e. criticism).

While I am not a big fan of anonymous 360 reviews, I have done the same when asked to do them. I have even signed my name by what I said. For I want to have a face-to-face conversation with the person I am reviewing if what I wrote upsets them.

Isn’t that the decent thing to do?

And if we are the ones soliciting feedback from our teams, consider in-person interviews rather than surveys to encourage constructive, civil conversations rather than venting unfiltered frustrations.

We live in a day and age where decency is no longer the norm. Just look at the vitriol shared on all social media platforms.

We all would do well to remember that “real human beings” are on the other side of computer screens as well.

As leaders, we would do well to remember that our teams read our emails and text messages.

Aren’t they humans too?

Real human beings are always on the other side of all our communication…