How to get the feedback you didn’t want to hear
What are your reasons for seeking feedback? What results do you want to achieve? Think about your reasons for feedback in advance to take the fullest advantage of the learning it has to offer. Then, before you actually get the feedback, give careful thought to what will happen when you receive it.
Leaders all react to feedback differently. Reactions range from tears to elation. Are you interpreting the feedback in the way that will be most helpful to you?
Here are ten dos and don'ts that will help you make the most of the feedback you receive.
1. Do choose one or two areas to work on. Use your feedback as a jumping-off point for an action plan. Choose one most impactful area to master. Make some decisions about what it will take to improve in that area, and find a commitment you can get started on right away. You can always come back for more later.
2. Do focus as much on your strengths as your weaknesses. As you read your feedback, remember to focus on what's right, not just what's wrong. It's just as important to build on what's working than it is to improve what's not.
3. Do save your feedback for a specific time set aside for review and reflection. Give yourself the chance to absorb the feedback. Take the time to get in the right mindset to hear both good and bad news, and be sure you have enough time to work with the information productively.
4. Do seek further detail and clarification as needed. You may come across feedback you don't really understand. Don't just speculate. Go find out. While you’re at it, thank the people who gave you feedback for their time and thoughts. Giving feedback can be just as risky as receiving it.
5. Do take notes and explore your observations. Your feedback isn't the final word on you. It's just a place to start. Add your own insights to what you learn in order to make sense of it and find the real learning.
6. Don’t choose too many areas to work on. Feedback can be overwhelming. Every comment, good or bad, can be a place to look for improvement. Be careful not to get caught in “analysis paralysis.”
7. Don’t focus on the "bad stuff." It’s easy to get sidetracked by fixating on what’s not going well. Feedback is important, but it's not everything. Even when you get harsh feedback, you can learn to put it in perspective.
8. Don’t just skim the feedback. Slow down and analyze it well. You might even want to read or review your feedback several times to really understand the message.