Ever received a 'kick in the guts'?

Six Tips on Dealing with Feedback

You feel like you’ve been kicked in the guts!  It’s painful.  This wasn’t what you were expecting.  You thought you’d get a response like ‘it was fantastic' and now you’re hurting.  All you did was ask your colleague what they thought of your work.  You thought it was a great job that met the outcomes required.  They thought it lacked substance and it was not up to standard.  THWACK!  There it is.  You feel it like a blow to the stomach. 

Feedback is great to get when it’s what you’re expecting.  When it’s not what you’re expecting it can come as a surprise.  Feedback can be risky.  The biggest risk is that your response may damage the relationship.  The risk that you may not be listening and the other person thinks you don’t care.  The risk that you know there’s a reason and the other person isn’t interested.   And you respond accordingly.  Regardless of the reason, you could damage the relationship. 

Here are a few tips on how to manage feedback:

1.     If you’re not ready to hear the worst, don’t ask.  If you're not really ready to hear honest feedback, then save your breath and time and don’t ask.  You won’t have any pain this way. 

2.     Listen.  Once you’ve asked, switch off the internal chatter and distractions and really listen

3.     Ask for clarification so you can improve.  If you’re not sure what they mean, use your listening skills and reflect back what they’ve said.  Ask open questions to clarify.  Always be mindful that you your questions avoid sounding like a full-blown interrogation.  Get the clarification or insight you need and then move on.

4.     Never defend or justify your reasons.  It will always sound like you’re making excuses and this may shut down the flow of information from the other person.  You also run the risk of them not giving you valuable feedback again. 

5.     Keep it in perspective.  Feedback is simply someone else’s view of the world, in other words, their opinion.  For every opinion on the planet there’s bound to be a few counter-opinions!  

6.     Say ‘thank you’.  Always thank the person for their feedback, regardless of what you think about it.  You can weigh it up or discard it later on.  If you’ve found the feedback valuable, you might like to tell the other person what you’ve found useful and will use. 

Remember, when you ask for feedback, always act graciously when it’s given. 

by Barbara Jaques 

20 January 2017