The Value of Individualized Feedback

Feedback is one of the most effective tools for improving ourselves.  In his book, “Talent is Overrated,” Georff Colvin makesthe benefits of feedback the case that people with superior skills and abilities usually developed those skills because of feedback over time, rather than innate talent.

No one would argue against the idea that some people seem to have an innate charisma.  Some men and women just seem to have that special something that makes it easy to get dates.

I was having a conversation with a psychotherapist friend of mine the other day, who described a woman she was seeing in psychotherapy.  Her words were, “She’s one of those women that you can just see a man would love deeply.”

Her words surprised me.  I mean, we all know there are some people that seem to have special qualities, but the quality she described seemed to imply a set of attributes that made this woman loveable.  I couldn’t disagree with the concept; it just surprised me to hear her say it that way.

As I thought about it, I realized the problem I had with her statement.  Love is so unique and specific to the unique individuals who fall in love.  Nonetheless, it got me thinking about the strategies of another friend who is a relationship and dating coach like me.  She focuses her approach on one thing, getting feedback for her clients from the guys who never call back.  I began to wonder if a person might be able to use feedback to improve how “loveable” they seemed to others on first impression.

It sounds rather repulsive at first, but her perspective is that you cannot improve your unique blind spots (in the way you come across to men) unless you get specific (sometimes hard to hear) feedback from the guys that don’t call for a second date.  It sounds painful, yet I have to agree that it could be immensely helpful for women who have a strong enough self-esteem to learn from the feedback rather than just being emotionally crushed by it.

Feedback is what allows a tennis player to improve his or her serve.  Imagine going out to practice serving a tennis ball while blindfolded.  You would never be able to see if the ball landed in the correct place.  Without feedback, your practice would be useless no matter how many hours you practiced.

Geoff Colvin makes the case that “disciplined practice” is different than regular old practice.  The difference is that you specifically target your weak spots and repeatedly seek feedback as you go over and over the difficult aspects of some skill.

For example, when I was a kid, I practiced my piano pieces all the way through each time during my 30-minute piano practice sessions.    Colvin suggests I would have gotten better at the piano faster, if I had repeatedly practiced the spot where I stumbled and faltered, rather than practicing that spot equally with all the easy parts as I played a piece from beginning to end.  This small change makes me focus on the feedback that is critical to improving my ability to play the piece.

Many women object to the idea of getting feedback.  They feel it is not necessary to change in order to please a man.  If he likes you, then maybe it’s a good match, if he doesn’t; good riddance.

While I agree there is quite a bit of truth in that perspective, I also see the value of pursuing information that can stop pain.   If there are men who could learn deeply to love you, but they think you are a “dog freak” because you showed them pictures of your dog on the first date and had dog hair on your coat, well, maybe that feedback could help you polish the first impression you make on future dates.  That way, you can avoid turning him off before he even gets to know all your wonderful qualities, and he can learn to love dogs at the same time he learns to love you!

The truth is there are thousands of little stereotypes and falsthe benefits of feedbacke impressions people use to “rule out” a potential partner.  Feedback can be useful in discovering the unique way you come across.  A lot of the time it will be the other person’s issues, not yours, that cause them not to call for a second date.  However, if there is a theme that seems to show up in the feedback you get, that would be valuable information to take into account as you work to find a compatible partner.

So how do you get that feedback?  Well, it may sound scary, but the dating coach who focuses on this method suggests you get a close friend to make a sort of “third party” phone call to any man who seems to drift away or never call back.  You teach your friend how to interview the guy briefly for specifics rather than the generalities that people usually offer when you first ask them if they could say what turned them away from continued pursuit.

Would you ever consider doing this?  Do you think this is a good idea or a crazy one?  Does this concept take the magic out of dating and finding the right partner, or do you see it as a potential tool you could use to increase your success in finding a great relationship?  Please share your comments below for the sake of others in the community who read this blog.  I am also curious to hear your opinions.


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47 thoughts on “The Value of Individualized Feedback

  1. Mary said:

    I don’t mean this to be boastful or anything like that, but am hoping that perhaps this could help other women. I am one of those women that is described in the article above. I have just turned 61 and have been a widow now for 2 years. Although I have been married for almost 40 years of my life, (3 marriages), I have had men pursue me all my life. My female friends have asked me how I do it? My honest answer is that I really don’t know!
    I recently asked a male friend of mine if he could identify what it is? His answer was that I exude confidence, joy and ‘realness’. That I am fully present, attentive, listen and give feedback to others, in the moment, which men find intoxicating (including himself).
    So yes, this is about feedback, but not quite in the same way the article describes. I truly hope this is helpful to all the ladies out there.

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