Explore how you can embrace receiving feedback and find an opportunity to learn and grow.
For many, one of the most dreaded questions is: “Can I give you some feedback?” If you’re not careful, receiving feedback can put you in a defensive mode where, instead of hearing it, you reject it and turn it back on the other person. This response rarely gives you the long-term outcome you truly seek; it closes you off and shuts you down. It pushes the other person away and can put them on defense as well.
The reality is that when you’re difficult to talk to, others stop talking to you and start talking about you. This leads you to feel “out of the loop.” On the other hand, it’s also true that most people don’t try that hard to share feedback with you because they’re afraid too. It makes sense; both receiving and giving feedback can feel hard. When you’re on the receiving end, you tend to worry that you’ll feel targeted or not good enough. In “Thanks for the Feedback,” Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen write that, “receiving feedback sits at the intersection of two needs: (1) our need to learn and grow, and (2) our need to be accepted just the way we are.”
So, how can you best receive feedback? Well, you can start by simply acknowledging and thanking the other person for their honesty. It’s key to open your mind and try to understand it; don’t blame, deny or avoid. The more you actively listen and show curiosity, the more opportunity there will be to learn and grow. Some example questions you can ask are: “Tell me more about…” “Please share an example…” or “What do you think would be more effective?”
Another important factor to receiving feedback is to apologize for even unintended consequences or impact. You may have had the best of intentions, but the other person might have experienced it differently, and it’s important to consider from their point of view. It’s also good practice to make suggestions for how you believe you can do better and check to see if that meets the other person’s needs. This will lead to stronger and more trusting relationships.
These steps are easier to do when you shift your mindset to “feedback is just feedback.” It’s another person’s experience with me; it’s not truly me. When you see it as objective but remain fully engaged, it makes it easier to understand, appreciate and act on. This enables you to learn, grow and achieve ALL that you dream of.
Next, check out our follow-up video for tips on how to actually SEEK feedback, if you dare!
Receiving feedback, performance management, conversations with your manager, listening