Two things you should do when receiving feedback

 If you google ‘Feedback tips’, you will see that every link talks about giving feedback. If everyone is giving feedback, who is receiving it?

Well, everyone receives feedback, every single day. Believing that feedback entered in the performance management system twice a year is the only kind that matters or rather exists is totally incorrect. Any information that you get about yourself is feedback.

You cracked a joke and nobody laughed? That’s feedback — either your jokes are lame or you are hanging out with people with humor inferior to yours. The same goes for giving feedback when you roll your eyes at someone who says, “Friends is overrated” or “Aren’t you too old to be obsessing over Harry Potter?” (Btw, no. Nobody is ever too old for Harry Potter) that are you giving feedback — you are disagreeing to the statement by rolling your eyes. Also saying that you probably don’t care about their opinion and maybe that they should just shut up.

There is lots of literature out there for giving feedback so today we’re going to focus only on the receiving part.

#1 Ensure that the feedback is always “Specific” and “Clear”

Harry: So what do you think about my presentation?
Hermione: It was good but I think it could be better.

Um, is that feedback? Sure. Is it specific and clear? No. It could be better how? What part could use improvement? Without specific and clear feedback Harry will not know what to do to make his presentation better.

Now imagine what Hermione’s response was:

Hermione: It was good but I think it could be better. I think you’ve added some information that is irrelevant at the current stage of the project and because of the sheer amount of content that you have to cover, there is very little time to engage the audience.

That’s good, right? Now Harry knows what he needs to do. The feedback is helpful because it is specific and clear. He can now review the content of the slides again and try to engage the audience throughout the presentation.

What can you do when someone gives you vague feedback? Ask clarifying questions. “I appreciate your feedback, but could you tell me what could be done better?” or something like “Can you maybe give me an example of what according to you makes a good presentation great?” or simply “Could you please tell me what I could start doing?”

Seek specificity.

#2 Be aware of how you react to feedback

You might say all the right things only for your face to betray your actual reaction. It is very important that you’re aware of what are called “non-verbal” leaks.

It is natural to not like everything you hear, but it is important that you reflect on what is being said and then respond- both verbally and non-verbally. It is crucial that you believe that there is scope for improvement in what you do, that you do not know everything and of course be genuinely willing to learn.

Some ways to truly become a champion at receiving feedback are nicely summarized by Shivani Berry in her book — The Best Leaders are Feedback Magnets. She talks about 4 tips, but the following two are my favorite:
1. Reframe feedback: Even if you disagree with the feedback, analyze the feedback to find out the element of truth that it contains. It might not be the most pleasant to know, but feedbacks are always opportunities to learn about yourself.
2. Assume the best in others: Assume that people are generally good, and those that are taking out the time to give feedback mean well. Appreciate their advice and show gratitude. That way you create a safe space to invite feedback in the future.

About two months ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a session by a leadership coach at CMU, Laura, who spoke about the importance of feedback and how can one use it in their journey of personal growth. It was then that I truly appreciated the power of receiving feedback well.

So this is what I had to say in today’s article! If you have found it helpful, do share it with your colleagues and your friends. Subscribe to my articles to have them sent to your inbox as soon as I publish one and you’ll never miss one again.

See you next week! :)

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