When it comes to feedback, "Please sir, can I have some more?" is not the gentle refrain oft repeated.
"Can I give you some feedback?" is a phrase that to some of us is as welcome as a bout of measles and our natural reaction is to run for the hills or respond with a curt and assertive "no". Alternatively we will smile blithely and prepare ourselves for the onslaught. Our wired response may be so extreme that even if the feedback is positive, we sometimes react as if we have been mortally injured.
Why is this?
The tragedy is that although we would like to consider ourselves as sophisticated professionals when it comes to feedback we revert to our child like state, seeing feedback as criticism and potentially something that could get us into trouble. It is a deeply felt emotion and one that needs time, practice and a new mindset to overcome.
This response creates an inevitable outcome of imperfect communication, insecurity and, potentially, an unwillingness from the source of advice to offer any further help again. Oh dear.
Developing a champion's mindset
Businesses that are successful know that the secret to creating a culture of self-improvement lies through helping employees to rewire their natural instincts to a point where they seek, welcome, and learn from feedback.
This mindset is employed by worldclass athletes and essentially inverts the emotional equation so that the receiver learns to rewire their natural response. Using the following 5 point plan it is possible to become expert at receiving feedback - try it for a month until it becomes a habit:
1. Recognise the intention. Not only is it not personal, guess what? The person is trying to help you. So tell your ego it's ok, it's about what you do not who you are.
2. Feedback = improvement = success. Tell yourself this feedback could be the defining answer to improving your performance. It could help you get you better results, achieve promotion, develop stronger relationships...
3. Separating wheat from the chaff. Not all feedback is helpful in its current form so you need to extract the essence of it to help you improve. So ask clarifying questions to help you...but try not to sound defensive. Try "It would really help me if you could give me further advice on how I can improve...."
4. Practice. Tell your colleagues, friends and family that you want to improve in a particular area and ask for feedback. Then practice receiving it, ideally recording what the feedback was and how you will respond to it. Remember to say thank you, it will encourage them to do it again.
5. If you care about others, often them feedback. Part of the practice requires you to offer feedback to others. Use this simple approach to do this:
Chris Lorimer is an organisational consultant with a lifetime of experience working with individuals, businesses and public sector organisations, such as schools and colleges, helping them to improve.
Contact Chris on firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lorimerconsulting.co.uk
Chris Lorimer is an
experienced management consultant who has helped many owners, Directors and staff to achieve more.