I’ve worked with numerous leaders over the years and one area that is consistently a challenge for most is that of receiving feedback. Have you had this challenge personally?
Have you ever asked for feedback while already having in mind what the right answer should be? And then when you don’t get the right answer, you’re put off a bit?
Maybe you get a second opinion, prefacing it with, “So and so said this, what do you think?” When what you really mean is, “So and so said this – can you believe how wrong they were?!”
Of course that type of response doesn’t usually apply to positive feedback. Instead positive feedback is usually accepted as gospel truth and the basis for dismissing all negative feedback. Interestingly, both types of feedback can be helpful or dangerous depending on how the feedback is received.
3 ways to handle the feedback you’d rather not get.
- Remove from your mind the right answer. Be honest as to whether you’re looking for feedback or looking for a confirmation of what you believe is right. When you’re looking for a confirmation, you may have set yourself up for an ambush. You don’t really want honest feedback but you’ve asked for it. Remove from your mind the right answer and be open to any answer.
- Emotionally step away. Negative feedback doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you have something to work on. We all have something to work on. So remove yourself emotionally when receiving negative feedback. Pretend you’re standing beside yourself and try to see what the other person is seeing.
- Collect more data points. It is possible that the person giving you feedback isn’t completely accurate. We’re all human and our own experiences color our perceptions. So get a second opinion with the objective of finding out if you really do need to work on a particular area in your life. If more than one person is telling you something – you had better pay attention!
3 ways to handle the feedback you wish you’d always get:
- Treat it with sincere humility. You could be on top today and bottom out tomorrow. I’ve seen it happen more than once. Success doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee and each day comes with a new set of circumstances. Be thankful for the positives but don’t let them stop you from continuing to improve.
- Understand why you received the feedback and capitalize on it. What’s making you successful? Keep doing that! Then figure out how can you leverage that success in other areas of your life.
- Look for ways to elevate others. Has someone else helped you along the way? Give credit where credit is due. Highlight those that made your success possible. Put them in front and allow yourself to fade into the background. This will help you to keep a healthy perspective and remain humble as well.
We improve by receiving negative and positive feedback alike. How you handle the feedback will make all the difference in your personal and professional development.
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