Leadership: Receiving Feedback

Feedback-2-blond-women1Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Winston Churchill

Okay – hands up  if  you have gotten defensive in the face of expected or unexpected feedback sometime this year?  Yes?  Me too.

Our neurobiology is such that we do end up having the threat response of fight
(if not flight or freeze) well up and even take over on occasions.

The other reaction we commonly have to feedback is that we ASSUME that  the other person has a motive and worse, sometimes even justify our defensiveness because ‘WE KNOW’ what that motive is!

And more often than not,  we can also be wrong on both counts.
We don’t really know the other person’s intent or motive; only how we feel.

Following on from the theme of my last post here are seven considerations to keep in mind when receiving any formal or informal feedback:

1. Practice good listening

2. Ask for clarification if you are left with a mixed message

3. Ask for examples, if the feedback sounds general

4. You can share and say where you agree, disagree and why but do a self-check and be honest that you are not just being defensive.

5. If you find yourself feeling defensive,  ask yourself these three questions my dad gave me when as a young adult, I was feeling totally aggrieved by what someone had said to me.

He asked me the following questions – see how they work for you.

a) Has this person got positive intent towards me?     What  is the point of their feedback? Is this someone who wants the best for me?

b) Are they qualified to give you this feedback? e.g. they have expertise, are experienced and or know you very well to be in a position to give you feedback.

cIs there something you can learn from what they are saying?

Though dad passed away many years ago,  this timeless wisdom is one I have found useful.

6. Ask for time for reflection and have a further advancing conversation.

7. Contrary to myth, we are never too late or old to learn new things. Our brains love stimulation and new ideas!

Having a growth mind-set

Our ability to learn, develop and grow is fundamentally tied with our ability to be open to feedback.

We are constantly adjusting, re-calibrating what works or doesn’t and the feedback loop is a critical part of that self-adjusting/learning process.

Giving and receiving feedback is an important factor in increasing our effectiveness.


Over the coming weeks, I would like to invite you to become more conscious of the following:

1. How do you give feedback?
2. How do you receive feedback?
3. What is one thing you could do differently when you receive feedback

As a leadership coach, team facilitator and speaker, I love working with savvy managers and leaders who are technically competent but need to enhance their self awareness to build teams which hum and have greater leadership and entrepreneurial impact.

Image purchased from i-stock

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