Feedback is a gift
You can’t get better at the things you do unless you are getting feedback and consciously trying to figure out how to get better. Feedback takes practice to internalize and understand without thinking of it as a personal threat to you or your work. The easiest thing to do when you receive critical feedback is to reject it and try to defend yourself. Yet, feedback is the best way to improve yourself, both personally and professionally. If you always think of feedback as an attack you’ll miss opportunities to improve from of it.
Think of it as a gift, if someone else is giving you the feedback then think about it as a reward for your efforts. In the first place it’s hard for us to give feedback to someone else. Try to make it something you look forward to versus shy away from or dismiss. Ask for it and try understanding the feedback better instead of outright accepting or rejecting it.
Here are a couple of which habits which have helped me better respond to feedback and also get better at giving others feedback:
Giving yourself feedback
Right after a meeting, I try to rewind and replay the meeting in my head to get a deeper understanding of what happened and try to think of my personal reactions during the conversation, including things I heard and things I said. I then attempt to think about how I could have made the meeting more meaningful. I do this right away after the meeting while I am walking away and I don’t spend more than 5 minutes reviewing the conversation. I’ve found it to be a really valuable exercise that has improved my ability to not only receive critical feedback from others but also give feedback to others.
Giving others feedback
I used to just blurt out my response to a question or my feedback on something. I wouldn’t even let the other person start the conversation or let them finish before I was ready to talk. I quickly realized that my conversations were not very effective and they left people feeling defeated. That sucked for both of us. Now, I make people feel great about themselves and ready to take action by the time the meeting is over. I spend time listening intently trying to understand how the other person thinks and i ask questions to inform myself about their situation. It leads to my feedback being more precise and also much more relatable for the person versus what I used to do by just telling them what I think right away. Often times my opinion doesn’t change much but the delivery of how I communicate it is quite different when I spend the time to hear the person out first and learn how they think.
When you get feedback, think about it as a gift that is special and just for you, do your best not to be threatened and get defensive. After all, someone did take the time to tell you and that’s a gift in itself. The next time you have an opportunity to give feedback, try listening and understanding first before you say anything. If you find this helpful to you or have other ways you’ve used to get and give better feedback, I’d love to hear your thoughts (and feedback) in the comments.