How To Become a Feedback Champ

If you’ve made it this far into 2023 without hearing about ChatGPT or the artificial intelligence (AI) technology powering the tool, here’s your notice: it’s time to pay attention.

For years, we’ve heard about the promise of AI—some of which, frankly, felt like baseless hype. But almost overnight, ChatGPT’s generative AI, built by OpenAI, has shown signs that AI can actually deliver on its futuristic potential. It has already started disrupting many industries, most notably education and computer programming.

The speed of OpenAI’s development and adoption has been amazing to see. When ChatGPT first became available in November 2022, over one million people signed up for accounts. Now, just a few months later, OpenAI has upgraded from GPT-3 to GPT-4, a far more powerful AI model (see demo). The improvement is of the magnitude that one would’ve expected to take years—but the upgrade took just three months.

We’re in unprecedented territory with the speed of AI tool development. In fact, it’s moving so fast that 1,000 business leaders, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, came together to propose a six-month ban on creating or training more powerful AI models until we can better understand the implications on society and the labor market.

I try to steer clear of hyperbole. But having now played with ChatGPT for several months and read about all the different applications to date, I believe that the generative AI powering it will be one of the most disruptive forces of my lifetime. Entire industries will need to figure out how to incorporate AI into their offerings to remain competitive, especially if they rely on data, writing/editing or technological expertise at the core of their business model.

Early studies have shown productivity gains through AI are greater than the creation of the steam engine, which touched off the industrial revolution. Even Bill Gates, who helped lead the personal computing revolution, published a widely-shared blog post comparing the latest developments in AI to the launch of the personal computer and the internet.

With all of that said, humans aren’t going away anytime soon. We have a valuable role to play in helping shape and use AI to improve our lives. We’ll also still lead the way in areas where AI will continue to be inferior to human intelligence for the foreseeable future—such as manufacturing, infrastructure, emotional intelligence and other areas.

But one area where AI has a clear advantage over humans, and where we as humans need to work hard to close the gap as soon as possible, is in accepting and adapting to feedback. Feedback is supposed to be about getting better. You don’t have to get something right the first time, as long as you accept the feedback that helps you improve and apply it.

Put simply, AI is a feedback champion. If you don’t like your first ChatGPT result, just tell it what to do differently; it will instantly respond based on your requested changes, without any pouting or defensiveness.

Unfortunately, in a society that increasingly emphasizes perfectionism and avoidance of discomfort, we have become much more sensitive around critical and constructive feedback. I’ve even found myself carefully wording my feedback to ChatGPT because I’m used to navigating human emotions. But AI doesn’t need to be treated with kid gloves, and that’s an issue for people who do.

Given the choice between giving feedback to a human who is full of complex emotions and a machine that will take the feedback and immediately make improvements, increasingly more people will choose to deal with the robot. I predict that people who don’t adapt and take feedback well will likely face the greatest disruption from AI.

Because accepting feedback isn’t always natural, I decided to ask the expert. This is what ChatGPT recommended as tips for taking feedback well (lightly edited):

  • Listen actively: When receiving feedback, listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Rather than interrupting with a defense of yourself, try to understand their perspective.
  • Don’t take it personally: Remember that feedback is about your actions or behavior, not about you as a person. Avoid taking it personally and keep an open mind.
  • Ask for clarification: If you don’t understand something, ask the person to provide specific examples. This will help you better understand the feedback and make it more actionable.
  • Thank the person: Show appreciation for the feedback, even if it’s difficult to hear. Remember that the person is taking the time to provide you with valuable information.
  • Follow up: If you get feedback about a specific action or behavior, follow up with the person later to let them know how you addressed the feedback. This helps to demonstrate your commitment to growth and improvement.

By the way, I’ve found that people who take feedback well also excel at giving it, and ChatGPT is no exception. Next time you have something to write—maybe even a response to this post—I recommend you ask ChatGPT to review it first to provide critical feedback. Gaining other perspectives is always valuable, human or otherwise.

This post originally appeared on Robert Glazer’s Friday Forward newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.

Contributed by Robert Glazer, a former EO Boston member who is the founder and chairman of the board of Acceleration Partners, a global partner marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books: ElevateFriday ForwardHow To Thrive In The Virtual WorkplaceMoving To Outcomes and Performance Partnerships. He is also the host of The Elevate Podcast.

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