I think one of the best ways to improve myself is to solicit criticisms from people I know well. For a while, I only valued criticism and didn’t seek out positive feedback. Asking for positive feedback never felt particularly valuable, and also felt socially inappropriate, since on some level it’s just me asking others to tell me how great I am.
I no longer see things this way. I now think positive feedback is very useful, for a couple of reasons:
- Positive feedback counterbalances noisy negative feedback. If one person says they don’t really like the way you talk, you might think that’s an area you need to improve in, and divert a lot of energy to improving it. But if many more people actually love the way you talk—which you might never find out if you never ask—that energy would mostly be a waste.
- Positive feedback reinforces what you’re doing well. If someone points out that I’m doing something well, I am both more conscious of it and more willing to do it in the future.
- Positive feedback is great for bonding. Getting positive feedback makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and makes me feel closer with my friends. It also makes it more socially appropriate for me to give positive feedback, which leads my friends to feel warm and fuzzy and closer to me! What’s not to love here?