<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=280235315724709&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

A 3-Step Guide to Stomaching Feedback


Caleb Roenigk // cc by 2.0 //


My manager, a leader committed to learning ("the master skill") has asked me to give her feedback. Great! Who doesn't like being invited to give feedback? At FlashPoint we are all about the importance of feedback as a key element in the process of leadership development. I start to think through any helpful feedback I might provide . . . until it occurs to me: this might be an opportunity to be on the receiving end of feedback. Would I be so brave to request feedback?

At my stage of life (context: the Fonz was the Teen Beat cover boy in my era), I must admit: I am kind of tired of the whole growing thing. I’ve been through self-awareness stages—whole decades have been immersed in self-exploration and self-scrutiny in the pursuit of self-improvement. Honestly, I am kind of over it, thinking deep-down I’ve learned all there is to know about myself; and, I am acutely aware of things I need to improve about myself. So do I really want to open myself up for more?

The answer is, yes. Even deeper-down than the mistaken perception that I've already learned enough is rooted the conviction that growth has no expiration date. I will always, as long as I value continued growth, have undesirable habits I'm willing to change. 

So, to prepare myself (and you) for receiving feedback, here is a 3-step guide to receiving feedback, from a Psychology Today articleI found to prepare me for feedback time with my boss. 

  1. Don't react to the initial sting of negative feedback. (This is particularly difficult for those of us who might be a bit on the sensitive side!) Dr. Lickerman says, the sting will fade and that the best initial response upon hearing "negative" or constructive feedback is silence. 
  2. When you hear the feedback, approach it as though you've discovered the feedback yourself! This helps prevent your ego from drowning out good advice. So, "Beth, one thing I've noticed about you is that you shrink from feedback," and then my response would be, internally, "Hmmm . . . (striking chin) . . . ah yes! What a precious piece of insight that just came to me!" When you're approaching feedback this way, you give yourself time to sit with it objectively long enough to assess whether the advice is truly helpful or maybe off the mark. 
  3. Be open to feedback, but not too open. Don't take negative feedback personally. If you do, you might give too much power to the specific feedback, blow it out of proportion, and generalize to feel that everything you do is "bad." Always "consider the credentials of the person: it's up to you how much weight you give to the feedback, based on their backgrounds, knowledge, and reputation. But also remember to "embrace the notion that you can learn something from everyone." 

Feedback is hard, but it's the fuel humans need for growth. And growth is where it's at. 

Learn more about learning more and developing a growth mindset: download a sample chapter of Learning Leadership.

Beth Bates

Beth Bates Beth is a writer, editor, and leadership enthusiast.