Feedback is how we learn and grow. There is a scene in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces, which stars Barbra Streisand, that makes this point perfectly. In the middle of a heated mother-daughter argument the mother cries, "I should never have encouraged you to speak!" It's a very funny line in the context of the scene, but think about it for a moment. Where would any of us be without parents and siblings and teachers and friends who encouraged us to explore our world, to express ourselves, to be kind, to be generous and patient? We go through life giving and receiving feedback all the time, often with little thought or consideration. Today, take some time to consider the quality and quantity of feedback you give to loved ones and to strangers. What impact are you having? What are you teaching? Are you encouraging someone to express himself or to find safety in silence?
In my senior year at Duke University, I took two short-story writing classes from Prof. Elizabeth Cox. Prof. Cox said many quotable observations in those classes, but one that I'd never heard before was this: "Be careful what you read, because that is what you will write. Be careful what you learn, because that is what you will know." We're giving and receiving feedback all the time. Proceed with caution...and love.
Peace and joy,