Seeking Feedback

Seeking feedback is a valuable tool for personal and professional growth, helping individuals identify their strengths and areas for improvement. However, not all that seek or give feedback is the same. Some seek feedback with genuine intentions to improve, while others might be secretly fishing for compliments to boost their ego.  Distinguishing between these two motivations is crucial for fostering a culture of growth and learning.  Those that give feedback, must be careful as well.

This has been a topic that has been floating in my head since some time ago when a fellow Medium asked for some feedback.   I quickly understood that this Medium was clearly looking for an ego boost and not really wanting to improve.  This lead me to an excellent opportunity to explore the concept of seeking feedback, discerning between ego strokes and genuine improvement, and how to approach feedback constructively.  And before I go on, I’ll admit that I’ve had issues with this too.

The Ego-Stroke Trap in Seeking Feedback

Receiving praise and positive feedback can be uplifting and motivating. It is natural for individuals to enjoy hearing positive things about themselves or their work. However, when this desire for validation supersedes the intention to grow and improve, it becomes an ego-stroke trap. People caught in this trap seek feedback not to learn and develop, but solely for the purpose of boosting their self-esteem.  The ego-stroke trap can be harmful for several reasons:


Seeking only positive feedback means avoiding constructive criticism, which hinders personal and professional growth.  When people are solely focused on their ego, they may disregard any feedback that includes constructive criticism. Instead of considering the areas where they can improve, they brush off such feedback as irrelevant or biased.  In doing so they seem to stall in their progression.  Ignoring constructive criticism limits personal growth and skill enhancement. Over time, these individuals may find themselves stagnating, as they are unwilling to confront their weaknesses and take steps to address them.

Confirmation Bias

People may selectively seek feedback only from those who will give them the praise they desire, reinforcing their existing beliefs and blinding them to potential weaknesses.  Seeking ego strokes can drive individuals to surround themselves with people who only provide positive feedback. They avoid those who may challenge their ideas or methods, as they fear negative responses that could dent their ego.  This echo chamber of positivity reinforces their existing beliefs and blinds them to potential flaws in their work. Without diverse perspectives, they miss valuable opportunities for improvement and innovation.

Missed Opportunities

Focusing on ego-strokes prevents individuals from identifying blind spots and areas that need improvement, limiting their potential.  When ego-driven individuals participate in group activities or projects, they may prioritize receiving recognition over collaborative success. Their focus shifts from achieving common goals to ensuring they stand out and receive praise.  In doing so, they miss golden opportunities for connection with others and growth that comes from it.

Recognizing the Intentions

It can be challenging to discern whether someone genuinely seeks feedback for growth or ego-stroking purposes. Here are some indicators to help differentiate between the two:

Specificity of the Request

Genuine feedback-seekers are specific about the areas they want to improve. They ask pointed questions and seek feedback on measurable aspects of their work.  If it is about their ego, they won’t be that specific.  Questions like “how was that?” or “did I do great?” come to mind when it is ego based.  Instead ask more pointed question like “was there a better way I could have presented the information?” for example.

Emotional Response

Those seeking ego-strokes may react defensively or dismissively to critical feedback, while those seeking improvement are more likely to remain open and receptive.  When someone gets defensive, I know they are Ego driven and just agree with them.   I can’t change them.  That is not my job, my advice is free and about worth that much to some.


People seeking growth are proactive in implementing feedback and making changes.  They will ask follow up questions and engage with you in an honest discussion.  While ego-strokers may not act upon the feedback they receive.  In fact they may just say thanks and end the conversation, especially if they do not like the information.

Source of Feedback

Ego-strokers may seek feedback only from those they believe will praise them, while genuine learners value diverse perspectives, even if they include constructive criticism.  If you are giving feedback to someone, just remember unsolicited feedback can be seen as criticism or judgmental.  Even when given with the best of intentions.

Embracing Constructive Feedback

To ensure that seeking feedback leads to growth and improvement, both as givers and receivers, we must adopt a constructive approach:

Cultivate Self-Awareness

Be honest with yourself about your intentions when seeking feedback or when asked for it. Acknowledge if you are primarily seeking validation and make a conscious effort to shift your mindset towards learning and growth.  Cultivating self-awareness is a transformative process that involves gaining a deeper understanding of your thoughts, emotions, actions, and motivations. It allows you to recognize your strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs, leading to better decision-making and personal growth.

Be Specific in Your Requests

When asking for feedback, be clear about what you want to improve. Specific questions invite specific responses and actionable insights.  By being specific in your requests for feedback, you demonstrate your commitment to growth and improvement. Specific questions enable others to offer more relevant and actionable feedback, setting you on a path of continuous learning and development. Remember that feedback is a gift that can help you uncover blind spots, capitalize on strengths, and achieve your goals more effectively.

Welcome Diverse Perspectives

Encourage feedback from a variety of sources, including those who might challenge your viewpoint. Embrace differing opinions as opportunities for growth.  When individuals seek feedback from a diverse group of people, they gain a more comprehensive understanding of their work or actions. Each person brings their unique insights and expertise, which collectively enriches the feedback received. This holistic feedback provides a more accurate picture of strengths and areas for improvement.

Separate Feedback from Self-Worth

Constructive criticism should not be perceived as a personal attack. Learn to detach feedback from your self-esteem and view it as a means to enhance your skills.To truly develop and achieve their full potential, individuals must shift their focus from seeking validation to seeking improvement. By being receptive to feedback, even when it includes constructive criticism, and by embracing opportunities to learn from others, individuals can foster a growth mindset and continuously evolve both personally and professionally.

I hope this helps both those seeking feedback and those that are often requested to give it.  Seeking Feedback is a powerful tool for growth, but its impact depends on the intentions behind seeking it. If you genuinely desire improvement, feedback can be a catalyst for your development. However, if you solely seek validation and ego-strokes, you risk missing out on valuable learning opportunities.  As individuals, we must be self-aware and open to constructive feedback, creating an environment that fosters growth, learning, and collaboration. By embracing feedback with humility and an eagerness to improve, we can unlock our full potential and achieve greater heights both personally and professionally.

Rev. Colleen Irwin
Reverend Colleen Irwin is a Spiritual being having a human experience as a Blogger, Wife, Mother, Mentor, Healer and Public Speaker living in Rochester New York. Colleen, a Natural Born Medium, teaches, lectures and serves Spirit when called upon. She remembers speaking with Spirit as a child and learning how to share this knowledge with others has been an adventure that she captured in her book “Discovering Your Stream”. Colleen has been mentored by Reverend Jack Rudy, and ordained as a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek by the Reverend Dan Chesboro through the Sanctuary of the Beloved. When she is not doing her Spiritual work she is a volunteer docent sharing Susan B. Anthony's history to visitors of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Her trust in Spirit gave her a new title – PREVIVOR. She now uses her platform to educate others about the BRCA genetic mutation and how one can take control of their health and well-being.
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