5 Ways to Receive Feedback Effectively

In my blog back in August, I talked about the importance of why Leaders should Ask more questions than Tell people what to do when giving feedback.

While recently delivering an Effective Feedback workshop, a few people raised the question on how they should receive feedback effectively.  This got me thinking that maybe it’s not always about training Leaders to give feedback effectively but also how to train everyone so they can get something useful from a feedback session. This should help counteract the situations when the person giving feedback is not proficient at giving feedback.

This prompted me to start researching this topic as it made perfect sense, so here’s what I found.

Not everyone is always ready, willing or able to receive feedback.  Everyone wants to be accepted and everyone wants to develop however, we can react to receiving feedback in 3 different ways.  These reactions act as filters and therefore we don’t take on board the information that is being relayed to us.  The 3 reactions or filters are:

  • Truth – as in how we believe how truthful the information being relayed to us is.  When this filter is used, we only hear what the person relaying the information to us has seen or heard.  We are not able to see ourselves, how we behave or how we sound so we can’t see or hear what they see or hear.  In addition, if the person giving the feedback is unclear in their communication – then we are more reluctant to believe the feedback as being truthful
  • Relationship – this is about the relationship we have with the person that is giving the feedback.  Do we respect the person who is giving the feedback or do we distrust their judgement, their credentials or we just don’t like them?  When we apply this filter, we can discount what the person is saying to us based on our relationship with them.
  • Identity – this is when the feedback we hear offends our sense of identity and the characteristics we hold as precious to ourselves. For example, you may identify yourself as been caring and empathetic however, someone then give you feedback that contradicts this.  When you apply this filter – you believe your sense of identity and worth are in question and therefore,  you reject the feedback.

So, here are 5 ways to ensure you get the best from receiving feedback no matter how capable or incapable the person is in communicating the feedback.

  1. Know what gets your back up.  Think about the 3 reactions / filters above  and make a note of which will trigger when you hear feedback.  Record a few notes on how your ‘go to’ reaction  will make you respond. Then make a note on how to respond differently so you can get the best from the feedback being relayed to you.
  2. Seek specific examples.  Ask for specific examples and don’t accept general ones.  I don’t mean that you become dismissive or annoyed with the person giving you the feedback but that you ask questions to get clarification on the feedback. Use the old favourites to get more information – When did I?  Where did this happen?  What did I do / not do?  Who was affected?  How did my actions / inactions impact the situation?  Why do you or others believe this to be so?  The more specific and clear information you can glean will help you understand and acknowledge the real truth.
  3. Ask others for feedback on the same situation.  Ask people you trust for their feedback on the situation so you can gain more perspective which will help you get to the truth of the situation.  Avoid asking the ‘Sugar Coaters’ and those who will give you a glowing report regardless of the situation as you’ll learn nothing from them.
  4. Take time out.  To process the information, you may need to take time away so you can reflect on what has been said. Sort out your thoughts and write down questions you’d like to ask for further clarification.  Then ask to speak with the person again so you can discuss your questions and gain greater clarity.
  5. Tell me 1 thing that I can improve on.  I like to think of this as the one crucial thing that will create the most impact in your work to you and to others.  Ask for 1 piece of feedback that will help you improve your communication, how you interact better with your co-workers or how you manage your behaviour …  The list is endless.

When we receive feedback, we should aim to get the best from the feedback.  After all, we can only grow and improve on ourselves by knowing more about ourselves.

Until next month.