Last week I posted a blog on “giving constructive feedback.” Interestingly it generated much discussion with my clients and others on how the feedback was received. Yes – you guessed it. A lot of the times, not that well!
It seems that the natural human tendency for us is to go into a defensive mode. Typically this can take a number of responses – why the feedback was ‘wrong’, the receiver going into ‘denial’ – declaring they did not agree with it all, taking issues with the provider of the feedback, going into a blame mode – “it was somebody else’s doing that ‘xyz’ happened and or resorting to lengthy explanations or finding excuses.
Here are some suggestions:
1) If you are the feedback provider
Jennifer Elliott, Integrity and values founder, trainer and coach gave us some great coaching on this and it works especially well when there is a defensive reaction. It is worth its weight in gold and as the feedback provider and or coach; I encourage you to try it. “Jim – let’s suppose these results (or feedback) is true for a minute, then what?” Nine times out of 10 I have found this to advance the conversation, get the client out of the “funk” and move forward.
2) If you are receiving feedback:
As the feedback receiver, if you find yourself closing off or getting defensive, you may wish to use dad Singh’s wisdom and timeless gems. He got me out of the funk many times by asking these questions.
a) “Has this person got positive intention towards me?” What is the point of their feedback? Is there a positive underlying intention towards me, my development and growth?
b) Are they qualified to give me this feedback? E.g. they have expertise, are experienced and or know you very well to be in a position to give you feedback.
c) Is there something I can learn from what they are saying? More often than not, there is. Contrary to myth, we are never too late or old to learn new things. Our brain loves stimulation and new ideas enriching the brain as it forms new neural pathways.
Think, reflect and cull out the gems from the feedback. The feedback provider could be giving you one of the greatest gifts you could receive.
And finally, as Sir Winston Churchill put it, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”