Feedback is good. Even when its critical, hard to hear, ill-informed, or just wrong.
But feedback is bad when its anonymous because feedback – no matter how critical it may be – is relational. Its my opinion about you, but “voiced”. I’m not keeping it to myself, (and I’m not telling others ‘cause that’s “gossip”) but instead I’m making my opinion known to you.
But what happens when I tell you my opinion, but I don’t tell you it came from me?
All of a sudden you know what “someone” thinks, but you don’t know who that “someone” is. You could be speaking to them now, or tomorrow, or never even speak to them again. It could even be your best friend. You can’t know.
You can see how giving you feedback, without letting you know who I am, is ultimately very unloving, selfish and cowardly. Its a way of telling you what I think, without any consequences to myself.
So, if you get anonymous feedback, the only way to stop the effects of the selfishness that started it, is to just not read it.
If there’s no name on it, stop reading and throw it.
He asks you over to the side of the room for a quite chat. With grave concerns in his eyes, he tells you that “some people” (or worse, “lots of people”) have expressed some discontent about something you’ve said or done. How should you respond?
First, in your heart, remember that you can’t please everyone… not even yourself. And you’ll always make mistakes. So whether for good reasons or bad, some people will always be unhappy. You might have something else to repent of, or you might not. So don’t get too worried.
Next, respond with a simple question, void of anger, bitterness, or fear… “Who?” or “Which people?”
If he doesn’t tell you WHO, ask him, “Exactly how many? Count them.”
I’ve never heard a complaint from “lot’s of people” that’s ended up with any more than 5 individuals… including the person who raised it. That’s their version of “a lot”.
So, simply end the conversation with a pleasant and unemotional voice. “Bob, there’s a good chance those people have already come and chatted to me, in which case they shouldn’t now be talking to you. Encourage them to come back and talk to me. If they haven’t talked to me about something I’ve done, be a good servant of Christ and discourage them from talking to you, and encourage them to come and raise it with me. But Bob, you need to understand, I’m not going to listen to 2nd hand complaints – especially from people who won’t tell me their name.”