Have you been in a room full of people and unbeknown to you, there was spinach in your teeth and only one of the 20 took the time to tell you? How did that make you feel and what did that make you think? This is what I would think: Why didn’t anyone tell me before this? I could have fixed it so much earlier, if someone did!
That illustrates what feedback is! It helps us see what we can’t see, and fix what we would never fix if someone didn’t spot it and point it out to us. And most times that is someone who cares enough to risk being misunderstood and rebuffed or even swiped at for sticking their necks out to speak what many others are thinking or talking about over coffee!
And that’s why I like to think of feedback as my best friend. My best friend cares enough to tell me the truth, feel the pain of my defence or offence in response, and still stick with me till realization comes and even if it doesn’t. We all need feedback to make changes that will grow us as professionals and persons. But feedback is hard to come by, and rightly so, because of the discomfort it generates for the giver and the receiver.
So here are some tips on how to make feedback your best friend so you can grow into the leader you were meant to be!
Ask for feedback, and be specific!
Most people hesitate to give feedback because they are concerned about how it will be received or impact the relationship. When you ask for feedback, what you are doing is saying: I value what you think, and I want you to be part of my progress as a leader. Being specific about what you want feedback for indicates the areas you want to change, and targets specific growth areas in your life. The bull’s-eye sharpens focus and betters the chance of a win!
Receive feedback with an open mind, and work on it!
Remember that feedback is information about how someone has interpreted your words or actions. Keep the emotion out, and listen to the words. Remember you have given permission, and therefore the intention is to help you. Even in cases where you haven’t given permission, value the intentions beyond the words. This will help you stay focused on what needs to change instead of how the feedback source makes you feel. When you work on the feedback, your intention to change now becomes actual change and people believe that you really want to.
Thank your feedback source, and build your bandwagon!
Thanking the person for the feedback, encourages them to keep their eyes and ears open to see the spinach in your teeth and catch the foghorns in your presentation. This then becomes a continuous process and healthy growth strategy. Build your bandwagon by allowing more people into your feedback circle and just see how you stay humble, teachable and grow into the leader you were meant to be!