Holidays mean gift giving, when we show our appreciation and gratitude for others and them with us. If you are like us, you have more stuff than you need and there is an opportunity to receive a different kind of gift this year. We all have room to learn and improve, and a great way to do this is with feedback from some of your close friends, colleagues or family.
Feedback can provide us with useful information about how others see, hear and understand us – or not. When given specific details of what we did well or what we could do differently, we begin to see what others see in us and this can be very useful. When feedback is general and non-specific, we feel we have received nothing and are often left doubting ourselves, or the giver of feedback.
Let’s be honest – just the idea of getting feedback can leaves us with a feeling of dread, not being able to control what we are about to hear. But what if feedback became something that you could control? A powerful tool to get the data you want to support your learning and your development to become the person you want to be. What we like to call a gift.
Recognizing everyone has their own perspective on everything, instead of considering their comments as absolute, we can use their words to help us understand what they see, and determine if this is what we want them to see. If we control the specifics of what we want to learn about, we can seek the information we want, not the information others feel they need to provide us.
Here are six steps to take back control of feedback, asking for and receiving the information you want and need to learn and become the best person you can be.
- Get curious. When you get curious, you can begin to gain clarity around who you are and how you want to be seen by others. What are your values? How are you living these values? How do you want to show up in this complex and demanding world we live in? Curiosity includes three skills of being present to ABSORB what you are listening to, (internal words as well as comments from others), choosing to listen to yourself and others in a way that is open and non-judging, and asking open questions (begin with who, what, where, when, how or why) to help you explore what you want and discover the goals that hold meaning for you. Getting clear on your values (how you want to live them and how you want to show up for others) is a great place to start developing your goals. This will help you align your behavior to your values so you can connect with your true self. The more specific you can become with the details, the greater success you will have in achieving your goals and learning outcomes.
- Get Focused. Remember, you are in control so you need to determine what you want to achieve. What strategies can you develop to achieve the goals you have defined above? How will these create learning for you that will help you achieve your goal(s)? How are you going to practice these strategies to gain the confidence you need to accomplish your goal?
- Make the Ask. Once your goal and strategies are clearly defined, it is time to ask others for specific feedback, feedback that will support your learning and lead you to the success you want. As you make ‘the ask’, keep in mind that feedback is based on the perceptions of the person providing it. Ask them to observe and then comment on the strategies you intend to put into practice. Requesting specific feedback helps you stay in control of the process and also ensures you will receive their comments on what you want to focus on, the strategies you are playing with. People like to be asked for their opinion as this messages you hold them in high regard. Asking for comments around specific behaviors helps them understand what is expected of them.
- Be open and non-judging: Once they have completed their observations, the time has come for you to receive their gift of feedback. The words they share with you describe their perspective, which does not mean it is right or wrong, rather what they observe and how they experience you. Since you have asked for specific details, they can comment on exactly what you want feedback on. Consider this data, based on their experience, how they perceive you. Be curious during this period, including being present to absorb, listening in a way that is open and non-judging and asking those open questions that will help you explore their perspective and gain understanding that will support your reflection and learning. Curiosity will also help you stay calm if you find their words or non-verbals challenging and difficult to listen to. Ask them to suggest ways that you could do things differently so you can better understand what would hold meaning for them.
- Be grateful. Someone has taken time to notice and observe you, form thoughts around what you have asked of them and formulated an opinion which they hope will be of value to you. Seeking to understand their perspective and then appreciating them for it messages respect, that you value their opinion.
- Reflect. Now you can take the nuggets others have provided you and reflect to learn how others see you. Take the time to reflect on how you want to be seen, how your behaviors align with your goal (or not) and explore how you want to move forward. Reflection gives you the space to learn and discover new ways of being, new strategies that will effectively help you get to where you want to go, while controlling and creating your own journey.
How do you approach getting feedback? Share with us your strategies in the comments below.