The 4 Types of Feedback You Should Ignore

May 9, 2018

It’s hard to improve as a professional without feedback. Often, what holds us back are weaknesses we are unaware of and need others to point out for us. Or, we believe we are communicating one message, but people are interpreting it much differently.

That’s why you should always be open to feedback. But, make sure it's the right feedback, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark said.

“Not all feedback is created equal,” Clark said in her course, Personal Effectiveness Tips. “And it's essential for our success to understand when we should listen and when we should ignore the inaccurate, ignorant or damaging things people sometimes try to tell us usually for their benefit, not ours.”

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark outlines the four types of feedback you should ignore.

The four types of feedback you should ignore

In her course, Clark outlined four types of feedback you should ignore. They are:

    1. Unsolicited feedback from untrained sources.

You want to solicit feedback from the right people. But, if you are getting unsolicited feedback from people who aren’t strong in that area, it could be a negative.

Think about this way – would a trained musician take unsolicited advice on how to play the piano from someone who never played the piano before? Of course not.

Same goes for you. You want to gather feedback from people who’ve had success in the area they are giving feedback in; not everyone. In other words, you want to learn from people who are worth learning from.

    2. Vague feedback.

Vague feedback will drive you crazy. You’ll produce a report and someone will say, “it just doesn’t speak to me.” Or, after a presentation, someone will say, “you just don’t have the 'it' factor.”

Ignore this feedback because there isn’t much you can do with it anyway. If someone is specific, listen. But, if someone says something along the lines of “it just didn’t feel right,” smile and keep walking.

    3. Feedback that contradicts what you’ve previously heard.

If a bunch of people tell you one thing, and one person tells you something else, ignore the outlier. Many times when that happens, that person is influenced by an unrelated experience or perception.

“If three people tell you you're a horse, buy a saddle,” Clark said. “But, you know what? If one person thinks you're a horse and 100 people don't, it's probably them.”

    4. Ignore feedback that contradicts an idea you stand behind.

To use a political example, if you espouse the views of your political party and someone from a competing political party says your ideas are wrong, probably best to ignore them. If you believe strongly in something, stand behind it if you get feedback from the opposing side. 

“Not everyone is going to love what you do,” Clark said. “And, in fact, we know intellectually that the best brands and best ideas often have fierce believers and fierce critics."

The takeaway: Be strategic with the feedback you listen to

It’s worth reemphasizing that listening to feedback is an important part of developing as an individual. And sometimes, we want to ignore feedback, when we should listen to it.

But, if you treat all feedback the same, feedback itself will lose value – and ultimately not help your career.

“There's such a cultural push that we should listen to feedback and that it makes us smarter and sharper,” Clark said. “But, that's only true if it's the right kind of feedback from the right kind of people. Otherwise, it's counterproductive and we do better to filter it out.”

Want to learn more? Watch Clark’s course, Personal Effectiveness Tips.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: