The ability to put feedback into perspective is a gift.
Today, during a coaching conversation, a client shared a big AHA moment they experienced after becoming frustrated that the service person was not understanding and not addressing their concerns about a system being installed in their home.
It wasn’t until later that evening that the AHA struck—the realization that the questions being asked and the feedback provided was not only not helpful, but also lead to further frustration. Judgment and defensiveness were driving the conversation.
Leading to the miscommunication was that difference in strengths lens perspectives with which they were each approaching the conversation. If they had realized this in the moment they could have managed their defensiveness and judgments. They may have truly heard the feedback and would have been able to adjust their conversation, feeling good about the exchange in the end.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our strengths lenses. It informs our perspective on matters and contributes to our common sense. Let’s continue to explore the gift of feedback a bit further this week!
This is part 3 in the 5-part series on the Art of Receiving Feedback by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.Recognize that short-term discomfort can yield long-term gain. Click To Tweet
Most leaders, like you, are reluctant to receive feedback—a continuing workplace challenge. You’re generally afraid to receive information about yourself. Fearing it will be difficult and undesirable, issues go unresolved and challenges grow deeper. When your people are reluctant to approach certain subjects trust and unity suffer. And, you may also be missing out on affirmations on how you lead.
You can’t afford to not practice and promote the art and skill of receiving gracefully feedback. Your people look up to you and will copy your behaviors. Emotions and your way of being are contagious and nowhere is this more evident than when you react defensively and thwart helpful feedback.
Receiving feedback presents some challenges…
Recognize and manage resistance to feedback.
Becoming aware of your emotional needs and insecurities is the first step in managing your reactivity. Your need to be accepted may present as three significant fears, all closely related:
- Fear of having to change
Change represents the unknown, and most people dread it. We believe we lack control and become anxious about the things that could go wrong. Change implies that your current system is inadequate. So, does this mean you are inadequate?
- Fear of failure
For some, significant failure can be personally debilitating and regarded as a career killer. If your identity is strongly tied to your position, you may view any failure at work as a failure as a person.
- Fear of rejection
Rejection, the strongest fear of all, is erroneously viewed as worthlessness or purposelessness. There are few more distressing feelings.
Your emotional needs and fears may cause you to exaggerate or misrepresent the feedback you receive. You turn a specific negative event into a character flaw, engaging in all-or-nothing thinking, notes business professors James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris in “Don’t Let Your Brain’s Defense Mechanisms Thwart Effective Feedback” (Harvard Business Review blog, August 2016). Black-and-white thinking can induce “catastrophizing” (believing things are worse than they are).
This “selective perspective,” as it’s sometimes called, can lead to unbalanced reactions—the more unbalanced, the more severe the consequences. With awareness, a shift in mindset, and training, you can learn to be calm and reasonable, enjoying the growth and relief that accompanies putting problems in perspective.
Assess your situation; is it really that serious? Do other people’s opinions give them magical powers over you? Not really. Recognize that short-term discomfort can yield long-term gain. A difficult, challenging comment is not going to take you down. Things will be okay.
These approaches can help you overcome your fears and anxieties, and allow you to manage your resistance to feedback, creating an open, learning mindset to challenges. What has been your mindset with feedback? I’d love to hear from you. Reach me here and on LinkedIn.