Feedback Fatigue Firsthand

Feedback fatigue, is it a thing? We think so, and this episode delves into its effects.
Is feedback fatigue a thing? If so, Angela may have been experiencing it this week. Clinnect, as a social enterprise, has sought out and encouraged feedback from all stakeholders. Angela talks about how the process of creating a product with transparency and welcoming feedback can take a toll personally. Jonathan reminds Angela of why she is doing this and gives some real life examples from his own career.

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Produced by Jonathan Bowers and Angela Hapke
Music by Andrew Codeman (CC BY 3.0)


Angela: [00:00:00] Yes, my child named Alex might have been messing around a little bit with it. She pretends to do podcasts.
They're really bad.
Jonathan: [00:00:10] I bet. what does she talk about?
Angela: [00:00:11] She kind of makes up stories, but then they don't really have any logical like sequence and to the stories they're very, just weird.
Jonathan: [00:00:21] I wish we could, set it up to record her and then like, just listen to a story that Nora or sorry, Alex.
Angela: [00:00:29] yeah.
not for this podcast. She doesn't know anything about this stuff.
Jonathan: [00:00:33] That's fine. We don't either.
Angela: [00:00:37] Oh my God. That's true.

Intro [00:00:39]

Jonathan: [00:00:39] You're listening to fixing faxes a podcast on the journey of building a digital health startup with your host myself, Jonathan Bowers.
Angela: [00:00:48] And I'm Angela Hapke. So it is October 29th.
Jonathan: [00:00:52] Oh, we're going to divulge the date. People are going to have expectations.
Angela: [00:00:56] Yeah, I know. I know. And it's okay. It's okay. Halloween is in two days.
Jonathan: [00:01:02] Oh my goodness. Yeah.
Angela: [00:01:03] my daughter is going to Alex is supposed to be dressing up tomorrow. She has been wanting well, she's changed her mind a million times of what she wants to be, but she, she finally, decided on being a bunny. we left costume making to last minute last night, it was like all falling apart.
Everything was not working. I couldn't deal with it. I lost my ever-loving mind. Alex then decides to drop the bomb. Well, mum, after you bought the bunny costume, I actually didn't want to be a bunny anymore, but I knew you had bought all the stuff to make the costume. So I didn't say anything. I really want to be a bat.
Oh, I didn't even know what to say. So many things were going through my mind at that moment.
taking an old black tablecloth that I have. I will make a poncho style wings for her. She's going to wear black leggings, little face makeup on, and she will be the bat.
She's always wanted to be. I can't deal with Halloween
Jonathan: [00:02:12] There's no time for those kinds of hobbies right
Angela: [00:02:14] No, there's no time. I, totally, just, I don't know what the word is, but I, I just did whatever. I, I didn't make Nora's costume. She wanted to be a bear. I bought a costume. she loved it. It just fits her thank goodness cause that also came yesterday and her biggest concern was, if I am a bear, maybe I shouldn't crawl around outside, but rather should walk.
So the cars don't hit me.
Jonathan: [00:02:47] She's very safety conscious. I like that a lot. I mean, there's a number of reasons why you shouldn't crawl around on Halloween in a costume, but that, that I think is the most important one.
Angela: [00:03:04] she was though, this child was testing me by saying that she was testing me to see if that was appropriate or not, because she really did want to crawl. So she was more like I'll test the waters. And see what mom says about this. And then when she says it and I'm like, that's a good idea, Nora, you shouldn't crawl.
Jonathan: [00:03:23] Well, happy Halloween. Hope everyone had some candy,
Angela: [00:03:26] And you were smart about your venturing out or not venturing out during Halloween? Segue should just say that everybody know
Jonathan: [00:03:38] Yeah. Just say, just say the word segue,
Angela: [00:03:40] segue,

On Receiving Feedback [00:03:42]

I did have a topic in my mind that was bothering me today.
Jonathan: [00:03:45] Yeah, let's talk about it. Was it bothering you earlier on the call?
Angela: [00:03:51] Explain yourself, Jonathan. Why would you
Jonathan: [00:03:53] There was just a few moments where you were sitting there. Purse, lipped,
Angela: [00:03:58] Not pursed my lips.
Jonathan: [00:04:02] occasionally. Yeah. If you're thinking, well, no, it's not like a, not like that. It's more like they get thinner. Like you'll, you'll be thinking about something and then
Angela: [00:04:12] Is that what I do is
Jonathan: [00:04:13] I can't, I can't do your face.
Angela: [00:04:15] Ah, I wish she could, because then I'd know what I
Jonathan: [00:04:18] we'll start recording everything so that I can point it out to you.
Angela: [00:04:22] So we really do nice debriefs, like in sports where they, your coach goes over things later about how you're really, really screwed it all up.
Jonathan: [00:04:31] I'll circle your lips and say, Casey here this moment here, I read this as, and then the eyebrow knit.
Angela: [00:04:38] Oh, there's a lot of eyebrow action. Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. Yep. Um, yeah, it ties in. It ties in,
so okay. In the last year of building Clinnect, and maybe, well, actually, I'm going to ask you a few questions around this too. In the last year of building Clinnect. I have tried to lead, a company that is also a social enterprise in a very transparent, hence obviously this podcast too, in a very transparent, inclusive way where I invite people to give me feedback, because I know.
I know we have a small team, so I know our team really well. I know our users really well. I know a lot of them by first name. I, my, I have a big, group of founders and, investors and stuff. And I know, I know everybody really well, and I think that I have welcomed and created the welcoming of feedback a
Jonathan: [00:05:46] okay. Okay. okay. I have a feeling I know where this might go.
Angela: [00:05:53] And I wanted that. I wanted this to be a social enterprise where people felt, they had a say in, or not even a say, but rather, a place to be heard about something that was being built that ha I believe has, is going to have such big impact. In the last week and a half, I feel like that all has come, not come back to bite me a little bit, but has certainly made me realize what a, what a thick set of skin I need to have to continue that.
Or where is my line in the sand that I need to now, rather than putting this inclusive, mediator, welcoming hat on, take that off and put the CEO hat on and say that's all well, and good. Thank you for your feedback. And now I'm making this decision. And, this has been a hard one these last few weeks
Jonathan: [00:07:09] Hmm.
Angela: [00:07:10] I'm struggling a lot with it.
So you've been, you've led a team longer than I have Jonathan.
Jonathan: [00:07:18] yeah, I mean, but we struggle with the same things. and it seems to come up occasionally in seasons where I feel like, okay, I can sort of get some feedback and, uh, I don't need to make the decisions. but usually it comes down to somebody needs to make the decision and it's probably. The leader needs to make that decision.
Angela: [00:07:42] totally.
Jonathan: [00:07:43] and I mean like the feedback is, is still really helpful, right? Like, it informs on the decisions that you need to make and how you gonna approach that and making sure that everyone is heard and feels heard. but it, you know, sometimes you just have to.
Like a decision just has to be made. And it's the same, it's the same when we work with clients sometimes. Right. We, we, we often can't make the decision for the client. We can give them, like, here's what we think you should do. Here's the reasons why, you know, if it's, if it's very clear that this is, this is what should happen and we shouldn't really even consider other alternatives, we won't present those.
but occasionally it'll be sort of a toss up and we'll say, okay, you could go this way or this way. Think this first way, but if you want to choose this other way, here's the, here's the other option. And here's what that means. we're doing that on another project right now where we, I wouldn't say struggle to get a decision made, but, that's essentially what we're trying to do every week is get someone to make a decision because we have to keep moving forward.
We can't, we can't just get stuck having the same conversations over and over and over again. somebody needs to make that decision and then we move forward on it. And it's not that it's not that people are, You know, people are left out, cause the like all the feedback is brought in, but like we have to pick a direction.
Like we can't, we can't go in to, we can't go left and right at the same time. we've gotten fairly good at that. I mean, occasionally we'll make, we'll make some decisions that not everyone really agrees with. but generally the decisions that are being asked to make being made are kind of inconsequential. Like it doesn't really matter to someone's existence, whether we do A or B it's, you know, it's, it's, at that point, it's just a matter of opinion and maybe preference and, uh, but it's not like it's violating someone's rights or
values, so, you know,
Angela: [00:09:31] So the dis. I, I don't know if I'm struggling so much with the actual decision making, but rather, I think. I take a lot on personally, because I care about this pro I've never cared about, a product ever as much as I care about Clinnect, I've never cared about a, company as much as I care about Clinnect. And so then when I get feedback that is. And it's just straight up feedback that, cause we've received a lot of positive feedback and some negative feedback, but it's this sense of, us being an, an open book, me being kind of an open book as to whether, you know, the person that you can send all this feedback to.
And I'm getting a little bit. I think number one, overloaded with feedback. I'm also, it's nearly impossible not to take some of this personally because I do care. so even though it has nothing, like, it's not me, it's the product that they're criticizing for this, that, and the other thing, if they're criticizing decisions that I've already made and, and things like that.
And I am like, I'm, uh, I'm a little feed backed out, but as a social enterprise, your stakeholders are so much more than I then. Well, any other kind of company, I think because you are trying to do something for a greater good, and so therefore there's more stakeholders. That maybe should have a say, I don't know, having trouble managing that,
Jonathan: [00:11:13] Yeah. It's hard. I also care a lot, maybe, maybe not as much about this product as you do, but I do care about like a lot of things in the same, with the same passion that you have. And I really, I really get. like encouraged is maybe too light of a way of saying it, but like, I get really encouraged when other people in the team, have that same, that same level of care.
And when they think about things in the same way and they get, they get, you know, not emotionally involved with it because I don't, I don't know that that's super healthy, but, to just have like, have this feeling of ownership and, And like skin in the game in a way, that just, I, I get really excited about that.
Like when, when someone on our team has taken on an initiative and sort of taken it to the next level, and, and even just analyzed it to the point where like, this is clearly something that they care a lot about, and I want to try and support that.

Negative Feedback as a Proxy for Importance [00:12:06]

Angela: [00:12:06] and I like that perspective though, too, because I, I mean, that's normally. The way that I feel about it, I'm always like, Oh my gosh. So you know, them having passion and them giving me either critical, positive or negative feedback means they care. And that's the number one thing.
They are caring about what we're doing and what we're building. but I think, I think for, for me, is that passion either positive or negative. Has been amplified over the last couple of weeks and it feels like a lot at me. Right. And so I think that's, I'm fatiguing a little bit from the, and I totally agree with you.
Like, even, even if it is negative. So we, we, we, have our user who is critical and, Uh, of, of what we're doing of the product of all this kind of stuff. Um, and, but the feedback that they give is actually really, really great.
Jonathan: [00:13:07] That's awesome.
Angela: [00:13:10] They give it in a way that's, that is sometimes hard to digest. and S and so I, you know, as personally have to manage that, but I think.
That them even carrying the ounce that they do about this, it says, says a whole bunch about what we are doing, because it is, it is on their radar. It's something that they do care about. They clearly have a passion about it. and, and that's, and that's great. So amplify that with then a lot of other feedback that I've been getting this week and, and whoa, I tell you, I thought I would relish in feedback because that's the way I love to operate. And I love inspiring passion and other people, but the last couple of weeks is it's like feed back fatigue.
Jonathan: [00:14:06] Yeah. Yeah. I don't have any solutions for you at all. Like I have no, I have no, I don't know what to tell you other than to like, try to try to relate a little bit. Um, I mean, well, one thing, one thing I is, I think that if you weren't getting that feedback at all, if you were getting nothing, I think he would be frustrated, but in a different, in a different way.
and so I think, I think this is, this is healthier for the product. like you said, like that passion is, I think signaling that this is something that is important. It's, it's, it's worth people. Speaking up about
Angela: [00:14:39] Totally. And I think also what it does for me is it's a growth opportunity to be perfectly honest. It's, it's allowing me to take it, you know, grow a bit thicker skin and also say, you know, be really, really solidified in why we've made the decisions that we have. Like, you know, take off that hat, put on my CEO hat and say, Though that feedback is amazing, but at the end of the day, business decisions do have to be made and we have made some and they've they, and they have not been done lightly.
And so I just have to, you know, get over the whole imposter syndrome and the, this and the, that, and the everything else that goes on and, and just be really grounded in the fact that we have made the right decisions and not waffle on that. And that is. That is that's hard.
Jonathan: [00:15:34] I think so. One of the things that happened to me, maybe three or four years ago now. I got some like very, very negative feedback to the point where we had to like sort of mutually fire each other, uh, clients, right.
Uh, it was, it did not, it did not go well. and I mean, from my perspective, I don't actually feel like we did anything wrong. in this case, the client, misunderstood something and maybe we didn't do a good enough job clarifying.
but, I actually think we did anyways. It felt, it felt heavy. Like it felt awful because I mean, I was on vacation and it kind of ruined part of my vacation a little bit and came back, you know, had to come back. And anyways, the travel back was just awful lost a lot of sleep over it and it felt. it just felt awful and heavy and thick.
And now looking back at it, it w it didn't matter. Like it made no difference to my life at all.
it just felt, it
just felt, Oh yeah. It, at the time it just felt, it just felt awful. Awful. And I, I mean, I didn't think that my world was ending or anything like that. Like, it wasn't that severe, but, it was really hard to deal with.
And, but now it's like, it's so it's so insignificant in the grand scheme of everything that's going on that, I mean, I still think about it occasionally as a, as a lesson, I guess. but I don't, I don't sit and dwell in that, in that feeling at all. and so I find, I find
Angela: [00:17:07] helps. Yeah. I was like, okay. I'm finding a bit of comfort in that also, but this too shall pass.
I mean, yes and no, it'll just, it was just morph so the thing about Clinnect is we hit on, like, we hit on nerves. With this one, we are suggesting a different way of managing a patient referral, which potentially influences patient care.
This isn't insignificant. It's significant. And I take so much ownership around that and, and, the feedback is. Amazing, but it's also highly personalized, highly critical sometimes too. And it's just, wow. Like you got to have either a, like, Well, good way to shed that at the end of the day, which is clearly what I'm I'm missing right now, a little bit is an ability to just kind of go and trust in.
I have trust in our team. I just, I think it's trust in myself and my decision making that time. Yeah. That I need to dig into.

Outro [00:18:28]

Thanks for listening to Fixing Faxes, building a digital health startup. I'm Angela Hapke and my co-host is Jonathan Bowers. Music by Andrew Codeman. Follow us on Twitter @FixingFaxes. We would love it if you gave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you review podcasts. Thanks for listening.
I didn't know you had a cat.
Jonathan: [00:18:48] Yeah, Belle we finally got her to stop sleeping in our crotches.
Which is nice.
Angela: [00:18:54] I think the word crotch is one of the funniest words in the English language, by the way,
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