creative juice

Receiving feedback well

Receiving honest feedback can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow.

Have you ever gotten feedback or an evaluation from a project manager or art director that made you feel defensive or angry?

Recently, the Allovus business team had a training session with consultant Jen O’Hare of TIAMAT Leadership on how to receive feedback well. Her workshop helped us to see that even negative feedback can be an opportunity for growth.

“As humans, we want to learn and grow. Yet, when we learn something about ourselves from our managers or coworkers, it can be painful and hard,” Jen said.

“The key is that the receiver of the feedback is in control of what they hear and whether or not they choose to change,” Jen said.Remembering this puts you in the frame of mind to learn, rather than putting up walls because you’re angry. It puts you in the driver’s seat.

  • Benefit from the feedback you get. You may be taken aback and feel defensive, but maybe there’s a kernel of truth you can learn from.
  • Turn it around and get the feedback you need. Ask for help. For example, your manager may criticize the way you handled a client—which could be vague and confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Ask specific questions to get to the root of the problem. “Did I deliver what the client wanted? Did I communicate the timeline of the deliverables in a clear way? What specifically were the things I could’ve done better?”
  • Please let me know what I did well (appreciation)
  • Please let me know how to improve (coaching)
  • Please let me know how I compare; where I stand (evaluation)

Even if you feel 90% of the feedback you receive is off-target, 10% may be valid. Seek first to understand the information being given. If it isn’t clear, say, “Tell me more.”

Another important thing to remember is your relationship with the person giving you feedback.

  • Take a step back and identify the relationship dynamic. Do you often disagree with that person? Or is this a rare occurrence?
  • Take responsibility for your contribution to the relationship.
  • Share one thing that the other person can do to meet your communication needs. Give yourself permission to say, “Pause there. I feel like I’m getting flooded with information. I’d like to process this. Can we come back to discuss this tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to think about it?”

Assess yourself.  

Sometimes feedback can hit our blind spots. While you are assessing yourself, see if you can identify your blind spots and bring those to light.

Once you’ve processed the feedback you’ve gotten from your manager or coworker, review your self-assessment with them.

  • Do you agree with my self-assessment?
  • What would you add? (can be both positive or negative statements, so be aware)
  • Summarize the conversation
    • Restate strengths and weaknesses
    • Identify steps for improvement
    • Set the next meeting time

You may not be able to control the type of feedback you get from a coworker or manager, but you can control how you respond to it. You get to choose if you dismiss some or all of what they’ve said OR assess what parts ring true and what you can do to learn from it.

If you’d like to bring leadership training workshops to your team, check out Jen O’Hare’s site at TIAMAT Leadership.

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