Instructors Guide to Responding Positively to Negative Evaluations
From Ledet Training Wiki
Criticism is valuable
Treating negative feedback as a valuable, rare commodity is a learned skill. No one likes having their hard work and effort criticized. Criticism is like pain. It hurts. But like pain, it can be very valuable. It can motivate you to change.
One thing that may be helpful to keep in mind is that most people who are unsatisfied with a service don't tell the service provider. Instead they tell others. The opportunity to hear criticism of your work yourself directly from the source is something you don't always get.
At it's heart, criticism is the most effective feedback mechanism an instructor has for improving their craft. While it's a big stroke to get all 10's on an evaluation, what do you really learn from your positive evals?
Also, realize that it is trivially easy to deal with someone who responds well to positive feedback. Everyone responds well to positive feedback! It's how you respond to negative feedback that gives you a chance to separate yourself from those who are less secure or professional. When you respond to negative feedback, you are broadcasting to those who are involved how they should handle providing feedback to you in the future. Do you want the people who work with you to treat you with kid gloves?
Sterling Ledet says "When an instructor takes ownership of student issues, even if it's not exactly clear that the student's issue or expectation is reasonable, the result is almost always an increase in my respect for that instructor. It's a real pleasure to work with professionals who treat negative evaluations effectively."
Have you ever been pulling over on the highway when someone honked their horn because they were in your blind spot? How did you feel? Perhaps you were startled, perhaps a little resentful, but after a second you realize you would much rather the notice than an accident.
By definition, you can't see your own blind spots. Those who have the courage to point them out are actually doing you a big favor. Perhaps a technique you've used before has only been tolerated, perhaps your bubbly personality causes people to be too gentle on the evals, or perhaps what you think of as something that is not much of a big deal is really something that is a snake in the grass waiting to bite in the right circumstances. Whatever the situation, be on the lookout for blind spots and question your assumptions, particularly when it comes to yourself. Humility, in general, is really good in that it keeps you from becoming to arrogant, makes you easier to work with, and makes you more open to learning from others.
Develop better communication skills
Even if a negative evaluation is totally off-base and has no connection with reality whatsoever, it still presents an opportunity for you to improve your communication skills.
Summary of Steps To Creating a Response
- Check your Attitude
- Look for specifics
- Dig deeper if needed
- Look for new ideas
- Summarize what you've learned
- Take responsibility and accountability if appropriate
- Thank the people involved