Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
Accepting feedback. It’s a common roadblock that holds back our own greatness. It certainly was an anchor for me for several years. I found myself often taking feedback personally and I focused too much on either my circumstance or how I missed the mark. Along the way, I learned that I had been looking at feedback all wrong the whole time.
Have we misunderstood the power of feedback?
Generally, leaders see themselves as the ones in charge of feedback. It’s typically a main component when leading others, and a vital piece in a person’s growth plan. The truth is that the receiver is the one that actually holds power in the feedback. You can’t make a person change and you can’t make them listen to you. The person on the receiving end has all the power to accept or trash our feedback. These are three general triggers when it comes to the feedback that we receive.
Truth– People will ask themselves if the feedback true. Does it add value? We are good at finding what’s wrong with feedback. “They don’t know this,” “They only see this,” “They don’t understand” Think about the feedback from a neutral position. Is it more perspective than an actual fact? Look to see what the giver is actually trying to tell you.
Relationships– People often react more to who gave the feedback, than what the actual feedback itself is. Think about someone that you don’t get along with and how often you take in and accept their feedback. In contrast, think of someone that you have a great relationship with and how you handle their feedback. It’s not uncommon for peers (or parents) to trade off who is going to give the feedback based on current relationship statuses. We are able to take in more feedback when we realize that we have this natural tendency to attach the message (unfairly at times) to the person delivering it. Separate the two the best that you can.
Identity- Share with others how you handle feedback and how they can give it to you. Let hem know if you can get defensive, have little reaction or what kind of feedback gets you energized. In addition to letting people know who you handle feedback, let them know the best vehicle to deliver the information. (Email, face to face, in private, at a later time etc) Help those around you so that they can give you the best feedback possible. If you are in a situation or relationship where you don’t receive the kind of feedback that you need, you have to take partial responsibility for it and let the person know.
How to ask for feedback.
Have you ever asked, “Do you have any feedback for me?” or “What can I do to be better?” and then gotten a generic answer in response? This is often because the person doesn’t know exactly what kind of feedback you are looking for. Is it performance? Is it communication? Is it about interactions with others or something else entirely? Be very specific about how you ask your questions. A better approach would be, “Tell me one thing ____________.” You fill in the blank with the rest. It could be Tell me one thing I could have done better on that project. Tell me one thing that you really liked about that presentation. The focus in the question and statement helps the person know exactly what kind of feedback you are looking for and it will be very actionable.
Accepting feedback is not always easy. Learn to get better at receiving and processing it to become a better leader.
Make a better tomorrow.