At the Table with Jen

How to Receive Feedback

How to receive feedback, and let’s start with the definition of feedback - which is information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, which is used as a basis for improvement.

So with this definition – do you get a feeling that feedback is positive or negative?

Whatever that feeling is will show up in how you receive feedback about a given situation.

What I mean by this is – if you perceive feedback to be negative, then you’ll potentially be a bit more on the defensive when you receive it.

If, however, you perceive feedback as a way to enhance something you are working on such as your leadership practice or something you’re producing for your business or your organization – then you’ll be receptive to new ideas.

You may even feel that you’re supported because someone else is contributing either information, skills, or support to the success of your endeavor.

So the first thing to consider when receiving feedback is your perception and being willing to stay open. And if perceiving feedback as a positive exchange feels challenging for a particular situation, aim for neutral.

What I mean by staying open and neutral - is detaching from the outcome.

That you are not your project.

That you are not your business, even if it’s a personal brand.

That even if the information you receive is not what you expected or hoped for, you can decide if you let it get to you.

And that can be hard – receiving feedback that is difficult to hear.

The best thing you can do is remember that the person giving the feedback is coming their perspective only. So if it’s not making sense – get curious and ask questions.

You might find that there’s a communication misunderstanding or even a disconnect somewhere between what you both understood the deliverable or end game was, and a few adjustments are all that’s needed.

You might find that it’s not the information that’s hard to hear, it’s the delivery.

But if you realize that the information or feedback you’ve received was well intentioned, then focus on the benefits that information can provide.

So let's talk about another aspect of receiving feedback, which is that if we aren’t in the right head space, it can cause us to doubt what we’re doing.

Only you know what’s in your heart.

Only you have your vision, and no matter how much you believe it, are excited about it, communicate it, and take action to bring it to life – not everyone will get it.

So when you get feedback that feels like someone stuck a pin in your balloon, remember that their feedback was from their perspective. Look at it through your filter – your vision – and decide if there’s validity to it or not.

If you feel changes are needed, then make them.

If you feel that changes aren’t in line with your vision or direction, then be willing to stand by that.

Either way – be willing to

1) provide clearer guidance and connection between your team and their actions and responsibilities to the overall vision or direction and

2) allow your team to do something with the new information.

Regardless if you were excited about the feedback or not, graciously thank the person who gave it.

Even if you weren’t excited about the delivery or the actual information you received, consider that the person who gave you the feedback is engaged and cared to make a situation, product or result better.

Most of us want to feel like our ideas matter and our voices are heard. Consider if you feel this way, then your team does, too.

When someone takes the time to share their input, especially if it’s intended to improve a product, process or situation, they care and are engaged. Even if they aren’t communicating their idea or feedback well, they still care and they are engaged.

As the leader, you can channel their frustration and energy into a positive experience by giving what they say thoughtful consideration and providing real feedback on what will happen. If it’s not possible at this time, then be sure to say that and why. Remember, this isn’t as much about doing what was suggested as much as demonstrating that your team member’s input and ideas were important to you and added value.

Regardless of the outcome, be sure to encourage them to keep bringing ideas forward. Each of these interactions are building blocks to establishing and maintaining trust between you and your team as well as the trust amongst your group.


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