Feedback is the Food of Champions

Do you dread that moment when your boss says that he wants to give you feedback. More often than not we immediately expect the gotcha approach to management rather than heaps of praise and well dones

Receiving feedback requires as much skill as giving feedback. My experience suggests that immediate reactions often lie between two extremes. One extreme is to accept whatever you are told as indisputably accurate and hence to follow any advice without further question. The other is to resent what is felt to be unwelcome advice and become defensive. Neither response is likely to lead to improved performance or to a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

I remember receiving negative feedback from one of my bosses regarding my timekeeping in the mornings. As the feedback was a note on my desk10.15am see me immediately when you arrive, I of course became defensive with a myriad of excuses. When I reflected later I realised I was regularly late because I did not want to work there any more so I changed jobs and that was the beginning of a great new career.

So the real value of feedback is that it will tell you what you are doing that is effective, as well as what you can do to strengthen your performance. If it is specific, descriptive, timely and practical it can be very valuable. Although being criticised is often not pleasant, being open to well intentioned, well crafted feedback can only further your professional development.

Knowing how to be open to feedback and receive it in a non defensive way can help you make the most of it.

Breathe. When we think we are going to be told something bad we tend to hunch over, fold our arms and hold our breathe. To receive feedback positively breathe deeply, sit back and adopt a relaxed body posture.

Listen actively. Remain silent and listen carefully. Make eye contact with the other person.

Ask for specific examples. Make sure you really understand what is being said and ask for specific examples of the point they are trying to make. Try to see the feedback from the other persons perspective.

Separate you from your behaviour. Remember that feedback is not about you personally but about how your behaviour affects the other person. You can choose whether to change or modify your behaviour

Work to improve. Devote your energy to finding improvements rather than disputing observations. Ask what you could do differently in the future.

Judge the feedback. It is your choice whether to accept or reject the feedback. Does it make sense? Does it agree with what you know about yourself and what others have said in the past?

Be open upbeat and practical when receiving feedback. You will be amazed what wonders it can do.

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