Feedback as a Gift

In our last newsletter we addressed the importance of providing quality feedback to positively impact individual, team and organizational performance. In this issue, we’d like to focus on receiving and accepting feedback as a gift…as an opportunity to grow. We all have behaviors that have become routine that may not be serving us well. We all have blind spots that others may see but we don’t. Feedback from others provides us with a window into those blind spots.

However we might receive that feedback, either directly through dialogue or through 360 assessments, we can use that feedback productively to gain self-awareness and make conscious decisions to shift our behavior toward increased effectiveness. Our professional success, in large part, depends on our ability to gain personal insights, shift perspectives, leverage our strengths and seek opportunities to improve.

To be sure, receiving and accepting feedback is often uncomfortable. A natural response is to justify, explain, and become anxious or defensive. However, an alternative positive response is to be curious. Ask yourself how can this feedback help me? How can I best use this feedback? What can I do to improve? Who can help me?

Marshall Goldsmith, teacher, researcher, writer and management consultant, offers a simple, usable five point model for receiving and accepting feedback:

  • Ask: When you invite feedback and demonstrate your openness others will be more likely to provide honest, helpful input.
  • Listen: Pay attention to the other’s point of view; ask questions for clarification; listen deeply for the kernels of useful information.
  • Thank: In the spirit of feedback as a gift, when someone gives you a gift, it’s appropriate to say “thank you” – Show that you appreciate that they care enough to take the time and thought to provide it.
  • Think: Be reflective and decide what feedback is useful and can help you and what may be set aside. After all some gifts may be useful; others not so much; or maybe need to be stored for another time. Analyze for yourself how best to use the feedback.
  • Follow Up: Once you’ve embarked on your own development journey, let others know about your efforts and invite them to observe you and provide input as you make changes.

Finally when you are deciding on an action plan, be careful not to take on too much at once. Decide on one or two key behavior changes that will make the most difference to your own development.

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