Lesson #49 – Giving and Receiving Feedback

–Leaders are experts in giving and receiving feedback

How would you rate yourself on receiving feedback?
How would you rate yourself on giving feedback?

Many people have difficulty in one or both.
Companies pay our firm K&A Leadership Seminars Inc.
large sums of money to have their people comfortable with giving and receiving feedback. Why? Because feedback is the breakfast of champions.

Without feedback, you are like a pilot flying a plane with no instruments. You can do it, but it is more difficult and you cannot fly in as many difficult conditions. The more feedback you have, the more information you have to make the corrections that will keep you on track.

Key #1 to receiving feedback is to realize feedback is not the truth. Many people are resistant to receiving feedback because they are concerned with what is true.

Imagine my children give me feedback that they don’t feel loved by me. That certainly does not mean I don’t love them, but since I am interested in a better relationship with them, then I want that feedback in order to know what I need to do differently so that they do feel loved.

Key #2 to receiving feedback is to learn to be “flat” around feedback. Don’t get riled up. Just listen. Sometimes the feedback says more about the giver of the feedback than about you. Suppose the altimeter reading in a plane says you are at 20,000 feet. The instrument might be broke.

Key #3 to receiving feedback is to have multiple sources for feedback. A pattern in feedback is more valuable than one person’s input because multiple feedback covers up individual agendas.

Feedback goes both ways. Leaders are also good at giving feedback.

Key #1 of giving feedback is to focus on making a contribution, not worrying about how others perceive you. Many are hesitant to give feedback because they are concerned that other people won’t like them, will take revenge, or will not be supportive. They sacrifice results in order to be liked.

Key #2 of giving feedback is to think of feedback as merely offering one viewpoint of many and that with many viewpoints the other person will have a more complete picture. The idea that feedback must come from an “expert” is ridiculous.

Key #3 to giving feedback is to be unattached to its reception. You are not aiming to convince a person. You are merely offering your viewpoint. A great way to do this is to say, “My experience of . . .” and then explain your viewpoint. This makes it clear you are not stating what is true but are offering an experience or viewpoint.

Another way to help your feedback be received is to come from the perspective of A) What worked? B) What didn’t work? C) What’s next? This eliminates judgment and maintains a forward moving context.

Feedback is not the truth. It is a viewpoint.
Without feedback it is hard to make the proper course corrections.

Action Step #1

Pair up with someone this week and practice giving and receiving feedback. Pick a simple topic, like how they might be dressed or why a certain type of car is preferred.

Action Step #2

Tell several people that you are practicing receiving feedback and would like them to give you feedback on a subject.
Remember to be “flat” on receiving the feedback as they have not been trained on how to give it properly.

An Example:
When I first started doing presentations, I had no experience in public speaking. I practiced in front of trained presenters and then got critiqued on what worked and what didn’t work. My only permitted response was, “Thank you” or “What did you mean?”
I copied their input in a journal, then started doing small group presentations. I was instructed to always bring someone along who would critique me. I added those notes to the journal.
In addition, I tracked the details related to the presentation, such as how many people attended, how much money we made, etc.
The results were great feedback. In fact, results are the fairest way to gauge anything; often harsh, always fair. If I thought I did great but no one enrolled, then I did things that didn’t work or did not do things that could have worked. Over time, I became a full-fledged presenter in my mentor’s seminars.
The feedback never stopped. We were instructed to constantly give feedback, even to my mentor! Feedback simply became a way of life.

“Advice is like castor oil, easy to give but dreadful uneasy to take”
–Josh Billings

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