In the book “Thanks for the Feedback,” the authors say something profound:
The key player is not the giver, but the receiver.
Think about it—if we are part of teams, organizations, families where every single member had learned the skills of seeking out and receiving feedback non-defensively, we wouldn’t have to teach all the complicated models of giving feedback. I wouldn’t have to coach my clients to write a script and stick to it. I wouldn’t have to prep them for weeks or months to have the hard conversation. If we knew our feedback would be met with curiosity, openness, and discernment, it would be a gloriously different world.
It’s tempting now to start making a list of the people you know who really need to hear this. I know that’s what I’m doing! But—you guessed it—this only works if all of us start with ourselves.
Some questions you might ask yourself to assess your own approachability:
- When was the last time someone approached me with hard feedback? How did I respond?
- The last time I responded defensively to feedback, how did that affect my relationship with that person?
- Would I rather the people in my orbit withhold feedback from me, or would I rather them approach me? Why?
- When was the last time I made a self-deprecating joke about my failings or shadow side?
And if someone is brave enough to give you hard feedback, yay!! And remember:
- They probably lost sleep over this—try to make it easier on them.
- You don’t have to ingest every word—it’s your choice what you keep or throw away. You’re allowed to take some time to think about it.
- Don’t discount feedback just because you have a complicated relationship with the person who is giving it. Separate the two.
- Someone else’s experience of you is important, but it’s not the same thing as who you are. Recently, a friend who was nervous about their yearly eval reminded themselves: My worth is not dependent on what my boss thinks of me.
- Making and having judgements is not the same as being judgmental. Don’t dismiss feedback under the guise of “They are so judgemental.”
- Evaluation, coaching, and appreciation are all different kinds of feedback. If you really want to be a rockstar, tell the people in your life (especially your boss) that they don’t need to camouflage their evaluation with appreciation or coaching. They are allowed to get straight to it—you want to know! (And you can ask for more appreciation and coaching, too.)
I have been in so many client organizations recently where years and thousands of dollars could have been saved if everyone committed to receiving feedback well. What about you? You ready to be a key player?! I always love to hear your stories.