“The more I think I know, the more I need to learn.” — Tasha Eurich
Ilove receiving feedback. I personally find it really motivating to know where I stand and what I need to do to improve. In my opinion, good feedback is the single greatest way we can learn and maintain a growth mindset.
That said, receiving critical feedback can be uncomfortable and can take some getting used to. But we can never improve if we avoid feedback in favor of remaining in blissful ignorance. There is no reason to be afraid of the feedback process- as long as you go about it in the right way.
I recently read the book, Insight by Tasha Eurich, and today I want to share some of her helpful tips on getting the right feedback. Eurich emphasized that we must “choose the RIGHT people, ask them the RIGHT questions, and use the RIGHT process to get the kind of valuable information that leads to actionable insight.”

The Right People

Your manager isn’t the only person you should look to for feedback. In fact, in some cases, it may not be that beneficial to ask your manager for certain types of feedback- if they fall into the category that Eurich calls the “unloving critic.” It isn’t helpful to get feedback from a person who is always critical, negative, or who has a grudge against us. The unloving critic could be a jealous co-worker, someone with a grudge, or a person with little true insight.
You should also avoid asking for feedback from their opposite- a group Eurich calls the “uncritical lovers.” These are people who really like you but are uncomfortable or incapable of criticizing you, even if to your benefit.
This leaves a nice hybrid of the two: Eurich’s “loving critic.” These people know you fairly well, have exposure to whatever behavior you want feedback on, will be honest with you, and still have your best interest at heart. Identify 2 or 3 people who fall into this category.
Feedback from one person is a perspective; feedback from two people is a pattern; but feedback from three or more people is likely to be as close to a fact as you can get. — Tasha Eurich

The Right Questions

Before you can ask your critics for their feedback, you need to figure out what you’re going to be asking for. Don’t ask someone “so how do you think I’m doing this quarter?” Or, “did I present that deck well?” You need to identify a specific area that you already think you are struggling with, or need to improve upon. Once you have a theory about where your problem area is, let them know and see if they agree. For example, say to your critics, “I think I have a tendency to be soft-spoken or come across as timid when I present in large meetings. Do you think that’s true?”
Your instincts will tell you where you aren’t doing your best. By identifying it and narrowing the focus of your request for feedback, you will get more relevant help and assist your critics in focusing on specific behavior when they observe you.

Need help identifying weaknesses?

If you’re having difficulty identifying your own problem area, try documenting your performance and testing your assumptions. Use your journal or notebook to document important decisions and how you expected them to turn out and why you decided to do what you did. After the event, go back and analyze how you did versus what happened. Did you decide correctly? Was your thought process sound? This will help you look closer at your actions and identify any areas where you may have a blind spot.

The Right Process

Once you know who you want to ask, and what you want to ask, it’s time to implement a process for getting the feedback. This is a process because you’re not just going to ask them once and be done with it. In fact, you shouldn’t put people on the spot with feedback requests. Tell them what you’d like them to do but give them a day or so to think about it before agreeing.
Once they agree to help, schedule some time with them- maybe just 15 or 20 minutes. If you think your weakness if being timid and soft-spoken during presentations, then tell them that during the meeting to explain the context. Then explain your plan for the process:
1. Make your specific request. In this example, you would request for them to observe you in presentations for some amount of time- say a month.
2. Receive their feedback. At the end of each month, have a meeting with them to discuss the presentations they observe and get their thoughts.

Digesting the Feedback

Now for the tough part- taking the feedback and not getting defensive about it. Remember, these “loving critics” were chosen by you because you know they have your best interest at heart, can really see you in your element, and are people whose opinions you respect. Before going into the meeting to receive the feedback, prepare yourself a little bit first.
Remind yourself that you had a hunch about what your weaknesses were in the first place. You asked them to observe you and verify something you already suspected. If you feel nervous before the meeting, try practicing some deep breathing or read some affirmations about the process. Tell yourself, “I am happy to engage in this feedback process because I can only become better and stronger because of it.” Or, “I am looking forward to hearing the feedback of this person I trust, and I am grateful for the growth that will come out of it.”
During the meetings, make sure you actually understand the feedback that’s being provided. If anything takes you by surprise, notice it, and ask clarifying questions. Write down any advice given or strategies for working on your weakness. After the meetings, give yourself time to process what you heard- especially if some of it took you by surprise. Look over the take-aways and plan out how to implement some of the practical strategies in your next presentation.
Now, in the next month, your critics will be observing you giving presentations while implementing some of the new strategies. At the end of that month repeat the meetings and see if you improved. Make tweaks where needed and continue the process for a total of 3 or 4 months as needed.

We cannot expect to improve our own performance and grow to the best version of ourselves if we don’t know what we need to do better. That’s where feedback comes in- it is the single greatest way we can learn and grow. So tomorrow, sit down and think about where you think you could improve, choose 2–3 people you want to get feedback from and start planning how to implement this feedback process.