Following the last few blogs on Creating Cultures of Trust, I think about an overlooked aspect of the trust dynamic—our openness to courageously offer honest feedback and receive feedback as a gift that helps us to be the best versions of ourselves.
With the strengths package that I was given I feel compelled, at times, to give feedback, to be a trusted beacon of honest, authentic feedback in service of your greater good. It’s been my experience that sometimes my intention can be misconstrued and not received with an open heart, grace or humility. It’s not uncommon to feel defensive when others provide us with feedback. Over the next few weeks let’s examine ‘The Gift of Receiving Feedback’.
This is part 1 in the 5-part series on the Art of Receiving Feedback by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.The benefits extend to everyone when you are open and able to receive feedback. Click To Tweet
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
— Bill Gates
Receiving feedback with grace and humility is a valuable leadership skill that takes courage. Many leaders struggle to receive feedback. While as humans we’re often quick to critique others, being on the receiving end involves an entirely different set of emotional and psychological skills.
I often observe this when consulting with organizations. Leaders are open to hearing from their people but don’t always receive the feedback in ways that are encouraging or fruitful. Nor do they always respond in ways that are helpful.
Few leaders deny feedback’s benefits, but many underestimate their openness to receiving it with grace and humility. Accepting feedback is a best-practice skill that requires emotional intelligence, relational aptitude, and an open mindset. The benefits extend to everyone in the workplace and beyond when you are open and able to receive feedback on what it is.
Four fundamental concepts will help your mindset and you to manage professional feedback:
- Recognize feedback for what it actually is.
It’s information about you. It almost always involves someone’s assessment of you—fairly simple, yet not always fair.
- Three types of feedback are at play.
With differing purposes, potential benefits and pitfalls.
- Inherent tensions will affect how you feel during any feedback session.
(I.e., your need to excel, to be accepted and to be seen as worthy). We all have these emotional survival traits, which can cloud our emotions as we listen to criticism.
- Consequently, we all experience an initial resistance to feedback.
Some of us brace for it, some fear it, and others try to prevent its delivery altogether.
Three Types of Feedback
Leadership consultants Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen describe three types of feedback conversations in Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Penguin Books, 2014):
Uplifting, Acknowledging, and Reassuring
Appreciatory feedback can be unspecific or unclear, can be patronizing or inconsistent with the leader’s or organization’s values (a means to an end).
Instructive feedback can teach and allow growth in skills, knowledge, capabilities or contribution to the organization.
Instructive feedback can be misunderstood, misguided or self-serving (know-it-all).
Evaluative feedback can establish a standard and clarify expectations.
Evaluative feedback can be harsh, hurtful or unfair.