I’m sure you, being the insightful person you are, have noticed that interacting via electronic means gives people a little more distance. It gives them a little more confidence. It frees them to make more insightful comments.
Okay, okay. It makes them more rude. (I say “more” rude because we’ve all gotten pretty rude in this day and age.)
You’ve encountered it, time and time again. I know you have. You read an email. “He never would have said that to my face.” You’re on a conference call. “If we were in the same room, she wouldn’t have the guts to say that.” You get a voicemail. “He can’t ask for that directly, so he leaves me a voicemail.”
Rude rude rude rude, um, rude.
People communicating electronically have a false sense of entitlement. A false sense of importance. They are in control of the situation. And they are freed from immediate repercussion. This generally translates into carte blanche to avoid being human or even remotely sensitive. They are in control. And it is at their convenience, not yours.
Why not use this to your advantage? Why not ask for feedback–and ask for it more regularly–electronically. Use this construct for your benefit.
If you solicit feedback via electronic means, you have the opportunity to get that same kind of direct–albeit rude–feedback. You may get feedback that gets to the heart of the matter, because there is no fear of immediate repercussion. You may get insulting, stinging criticism. You may get your feelings hurt.
But isn’t that better than “Good job” in a face-to-face?
I read (somewhere…) this little frame-up to help the most gentle of reviewers to provide some growthful input.
“There was something that was still a bit off in the [insert effort, interaction, project]. Any thoughts on why it felt like it missed the mark?”
Essentially, you are telling them you know that criticism is due, and need their help to pinpoint it. Get others engaged – friends, foes, heck, even your manager. Anyone that can offer an objective point of view on your performance will help you grow.