Last week, I was invited to a meeting to give my feedback. Not a work-thing; something in another part of my life – an important thing. And so I gave diligent thought to my feedback and prepared thoroughly for the meeting.
In the meeting, as we stepped-through my feedback, each point was met with explanation, justification, objection and denial. (I should say initial feedback – I didn’t get very far through my points!)
What a waste of my time. And what a waste of their opportunity.
Accepting the gift of feedback
Feedback, in all its forms (solicited, unsolicited and observational) is a precious gift. Feedback invariably includes valuable insight – if only we could see it. Feedback invariably includes valuable learning – if only we could put our egos aside for a moment.
So simply say: “thank you”.
You might not accept the content of the feedback. But that’s the next step in the process.
For now, in the moment of receiving feedback, accept the act of giving and receiving feedback. Whether it’s solicited or unsolicited, “positive” or “negative”, simply say “thank you”.
Anything else, and you risk throwing away the embedded gems of insight and learning .
Become an expert receiver of feedback
Of course, listening to feedback is hard. Many of us feel a very deep connection between what we do and who we are. So even depersonalised feedback (talking about the task, not the person) can feel very personal.
And feedback is also a significant threat to social status – a very important and deeply-hardwired circuit in the brain. Our stomachs knot at the phrase: “can I give you some feedback?”
So practice receiving feedback.
- See feedback as a gift.
- Keep responses simple: say “thank you”.
- Know that only you can choose its meaning.
And if you’re the one giving the feedback, make it easy for the receiver to say their thank you’s:
- Be truthful and sincere.
- Be supportive and helpful.
- Focus only on the future.
Opportunities for learning and improvement
Feedback is very useful for helping us see where we are, where we are headed, and measuring our progress. If the feedback gets through.
Maximise your opportunity for learning and improvement by viewing feedback as a gift. And don’t forget to say “thank you”!