I recently saw this at the bottom of a friend’s email, following her signature:
“I am a work in progress. Please consider giving me feedback here.”
The link goes to a Google Drive form with a few lines for anonymous feedback and a place to include your name, which is optional.
What a crazy concept, eh? Or is it courageous?
We’re often afraid to receive negative feedback, and we do our very best to avoid the situation entirely. And for so many reasons. Our brains are hardwired to defend against any and all change. We fear interpersonal conflict. We fail to recognize a problem. We blame the interaction on the other person. We feel sadness, anger, fear and guilt. We react instead of respond. It’s a big mess.
I’m here to tell you that you have a choice. You’re in control of how you respond and if you choose to change.
Here’s a six-step process to review before going into any feedback situation
1. Pick a Mantra
Defensiveness is normal. We often rush to explain why something wasn’t right. This habit can be tough to reverse. But the first step is to pause. Instead of defending yourself, choose something you will say throughout the session. Maybe it’s: “I hear you” or maybe “I understand” or simply “okay”.
2. Just Listen
See if you can listen without thinking about anything else. For example, how you will respond, what *you* think of what they’re saying or anything at all. Only receive.
3. Respond Instead of React
As you listen, breathe and stay aware of your physical changes–a tightening in your chest, a constriction in your throat, a strengthening of your gaze. Check your emotions. Then calmly consider the feedback and form a response.
4. Get Curious
Start by embodying pure curiosity. What if, following the feedback you received, you could just ask questions instead of making statements? Questions like: Can you help me understand that? Where do you think I went wrong? How could I improve?
See if you can listen to feedback and separate the person from the actual feedback. Sometimes a preconceived notion of a person, a position, or a past situation can negatively influence the feedback and keep us from leveraging that feedback for growth.
6. Express Gratitude
Even if you’re not feeling all that much at the time, thank the person providing you with feedback. They are helping you grow and evolve.