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Feedback is a Gift - Embrace Growth

Blog 11 written on 17.10.2019

To set the scene, giving feedback should be done from a place of kindness and care to help someone grow. If the intent is something else, then it is not feedback. So with that in mind continue reading.

I received some feedback on Monday and it got me thinking. We as a society really need to recalibrate our mindsets around feedback. Feedback is feedback. But instead, we have all the categories: constructive, positive, critical, productive and negative feedback. And we have feelings related to each category which then dictate our next moves after we have received the feedback. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feedback is a noun meaning the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process…which is hopefully used as a basis for improvement. But instead, we seem to forget that part when it is perceived as critical or negative feedback. Take whose words out. It is feedback, learn from it.

There is a lot information out there about giving feedback and how to do it well. I did a quick Google search and found approximately 4,210,000,000 results related to Giving feedback and only 290,000,000 on Receiving feedback. I know just googling is a very cheeky method of making my point, but it points out a situation I find very interesting. There are so many courses and techniques out there specifically on how to give feedback and not as many aimed at receiving feedback. Why is this? It seems to me that more emphasis and responsibility are placed on ensuring we do our very best when giving feedback, but we are not placing as much importance on taking ownership to learn and take action for growth from feedback.

Receiving feedback is super easy when it is praising and telling us we have done a good job. We are all very happy to receive this kind of information. But when it is about things we could do to improve or things we are not doing well, now we struggle to accept it. And honestly, we need to check ourselves. We need to toughen up a bit, take the evaluation and realise there is something to be learnt so we can improve and/or the feedback will open up a different way of thinking for us. Individually, we need to take responsibility for learning the skills needed to receive feedback without “armouring up” (a term Brene Brown uses in her book, “Dare to lead”).

Change your mindset around receiving feedback. Be grateful for the gift, whether it is praise or is highlighting areas for growth. I acknowledge that it may feel a little uncomfortable when work-ons are exposed, but the coolest thing is the learnings and the opportunity for personal growth.

So here are my tips on how to receive feedback…

  1. Receiving feedback related to your work-ons is hard and it is uncomfortable… accept this fact. No matter how great the person is at giving feedback it can still be tough to take on board. How you received it, is ultimately your responsibility.

  2. Be aware of the role feelings play in your reactions and behaviours when receiving feedback.

  3. Be aware of your feelings at the time of receiving said feedback.

  4. Feelings can, and do, get in the way, so park said feelings for a bit, allowing them to cloud your reactions and cloud your potential learnings is not helpful.

  5. Don’t respond immediately, instead say, “Thank you for your feedback. I will go away and reflect on what you have said.”

  6. Then go away and reflect, (please note: those feelings that have the potential to make you feel bad if you allow them too are still not part of this reflection equation). Think, reflect and really consider what has been said. Take the gift of feedback that has been given to you and learn the lessons. Explore how you can do things differently.

  7. Take action to implement the changes. This is about your personal growth. Take responsibility and be accountable for your learning.

  8. Lastly, remember that it is hard and uncomfortable for the person giving the feedback too. And if you have the privilege to give feedback, please use it wisely.

Giving feedback should be given with a focus on people’s growth. If both parties come to the table from this place, then magic can happen.

Ask your ego to sit down, it doesn’t like hearing about your human imperfections (I use that word with love – no one is perfect, we are human) and can get super defensive, coming out with all guns blasting. This is not helpful behaviour, what it is really doing is hindering your progress. Remember feedback is a gift.




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