How to Ask for Feedback in Relationships

Be a great team player by catching problems while they're small.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #403

We all have relationships, both professional and personal. Many are essential to our well-being. We must keep them strong. For example, you want to remain on good terms with your Fairy Godperson. When it’s time for the ball, you want them to provide a magic carriage and glass slippers, not a push scooter and a pair of power-walking shoes 

These relationships are important enough that we’re willing to work on them. And we assume everything’s going well unless we’re actively fighting. But if nothing seems to be going wrong, problems with relationships can still fester under the surface. It’s just like a neighborhood swimming hole. A still, calm surface could simply be hiding man-eating octopodes who are hungry. Very, very hungry. If you wait for them to come to light … well, let’s just say that tentacle burns are not an attractive fashion statement.

Don’t wait for problems to emerge on their own! Uncover them regularly, with relationship check-ins.

Ask Your Boss

Ask your bosses for feedback about how you can be a better employee. This isn’t just you wanting to be a better mindless, faceless cog. This is enlightened self-interest: the more you strengthen your relationship with your boss, the greater the chances your boss will help you get ahead. And if not, you can use the strong relationship to invite your boss for a friendly swim at the neighborhood swimming hole.

Europa’s cybernetic son Thomas has been crushing project deadlines lately and is feeling pretty darned good about advancement prospects. But Thomas takes nothing for granted. And at the next one-on-one with his boss, Bernice, it’s a simple matter to slip in an innocuous question. “I was wondering, am I being a good employee?”

Bernice thinks Thomas is doing great. But now that the question is on the table, it would be nice if Thomas could do independent research to solve any problems that come up, before escalating them up to management. Bingo! By checking in, Thomas has turned a hidden weakness into just another project to tackle. Now it’s possible to solve a problem before it becomes a problem. And that puts his relationship with Bernice in a pretty good spot.

Your boss isn’t the only one you have a working relationship with. There are other people whose relationships might benefit from a check-in.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.