Feedback is one of the most precious gifts we can receive. At least it can be, when we are willing to accept it.
Even if we think feedback was well-intended, barriers can prevent us from fully embracing the gift. There are generally a few reasons why we aren’t always so willing to accept feedback when it is given to us:
- We don’t agree with it.
- We don’t trust the source.
- We don’t want to believe it’s true.
- We feel insulted.
There are few things that can help us mentally “unpack” the feedback:
- As soon as you receive feedback, Genuinely say “thank you,” and put it in your backpack or pocket to look at later Its a gift after all!
- Make sure you have a clear head, free from emotional attachment, before examining the feedback closer.
- Be curious. Ask qualifying questions.
- Take the philosophy that when it comes to feedback, you have the space to be a hoarder. So, never be too quick to throw anything out.
- Re-gift the really good stuff, but change how its packaged if needed. Sharing is caring.
Say “thank you,” and put it in your backpack or pocket to look at later.
Sometimes the feedback we get can’t be fully cherished right away. It might not even be applicable in the moment. Not all feedback is GOOD feedback, and that’s ok. By saying “thank you” we show gratitude and demonstrate professionalism. By putting it in our proverbial backpack or pocket, its easier to acknowledge that even though it might not be something you implement right now, it might serve a purpose for a different time later. This can be especially handy for those moments when you are not fully trusting of the source or just don’t agree with what has been said.
Have a clear head, free from emotional attachment, before examining the feedback closer.
Examining feedback when we have emotional attachment to either the situation or the outcome prevents us from seeing truth. Emotions can blind us from the potential for growth. If you are feeling strongly, its best to keep it in the backpack until you can take a few deep breaths or have some quiet time. If you have a trusted friend who will be neutral and authentic, it can be helpful to have them weigh in on it with you.
Be curious. Ask qualifying questions
Like I mentioned above, not all feedback is GOOD feedback and it doesn’t always serve us in the moment. However, its also possible that when we receive feedback, it could be a potential blind spot. By having the courage to look at that blind spot, there is potential for personal and professional growth. Some questions you can ask to test for relevancy:
- Is the person who gave me the feedback knowledgeable?
- Is it possible that I am feeling emotional about either the situation or the person giving me the feedback?
- Is it possible this is an area I have not considered and there is truth to what is being said?
- What would I do differently assuming it was true?
- Is it possible to change my approach to see what would happen while mitigating any serious risks?
- Is it rational?
Never be too quick to throw anything out.
Sometimes the feedback we receive will serve us later. It might be something we are not ready to deal with or an area we are not willing to explore yet. We might just flat-out think its absurd. But like any tool, you just never know when it might come in handy and serve you in a different situation. Its ok to hang on to feedback even if you don’t implement it right away.
Re-gift the really good stuff, but change how its packaged if needed.
Getting feedback can be so refreshing when its nicely packaged with a bow from someone we love. Unfortunately, we can’t control how it is delivered. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good and it most certainly doesn’t feel like a gift. Just keep in mind, to open it without emotional attachment, and if the feedback is good – its good, regardless of the packaging. If it serves you and can make you a better leader, parent, friend, co-worker, employee, etc., just take it and use it.
Like any great gift, when you get a piece of really good feedback and you see someone else who could use the same, feel free to re-gift. The best part of feedback, is even when you give it away, you don’t have to lose it. Just keep in mind, while you don’t have control over how the feedback was given to you, you can absolutely re-wrap it in a kinder way for the next person. The FBI technique is one way to deliver feedback in a caring and authentic way – you can check out Kristen Hadeed sharing more about that method here .