Negative Feedback

Last week, I went to a dinner party. It was at a friend’s house we had all been to before. Our host wasn’t preparing our meal though. Another attendee, Chef Matt, would be testing out a dish for his restaurant, which opens up for the season in a few weeks.

Our instructions, before cooking started, was that we had to give honest feedback. He didn’t just want to know if it was good or not. He wanted to know what we thought. What we didn’t like. He wanted us to tell our initial impressions.

To facilitate the somewhat awkward conversation after dinner, we all went around and gave 3 pieces of feedback to the chef. It made me really consider the meal. What went through my brain as I took a bite of the slow cooked porchetta? What did I feel when I took a forkful of the collard greens dipped in the sweet potato puree? How did the pickled fennel mustard sauce go with everything on the plate?

It was hard to come up with my 3 things. I admired the chef’s curiosity as to how he could make it better. It surely wasn’t easy to listen to us talk about the dish. We threw a lot of compliments his way, for sure.  When you praised the dish though, you knew you weren’t really helping him improve.

To really get better at things, we need to be able to use feedback, honest information about how we could do something better, and develop a better relationship with it. If we all had the ability and courage to use it like Chef Matt, we could be using it to improve our performance.

Justin Miner

@portsmouthcoach

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