As a coach, I provide a lot of feedback to clients, including observations when ‘shadowing’ them during ‘in-the-moment’ interactions with others. I also interview supervisors, peers and direct reports and give clients written quotes without attribution, so they read others’ perceptions as offered.
Before reviewing the feedback report together, I say it’s important to keep in mind this is someone’s opinion… and it was there yesterday even if you weren’t aware of it. I also suggest ‘catching’ feedback away from themselves and taking time to ponder whether they’ve heard it before or if it’s new data. Finally, I remind them the best response when someone offers feedback is simply to say thank you. It’s provided as a gift, and there’s no need to defend or deflect, just let it be.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Feedback is a highly personal issue. It’s often surprising and sometimes upsetting. Each year after producing the annual conference for a franchisor, I receive a document with survey numbers and comments from attendees. Just a few weeks ago, most of the responses were highly positive; however, my mind tends to focus on the few that point out where we fell short.
It’s interesting that retention of feedback tends to lean toward the minority of less-than-stellar comments… while forgetting about the many complimentary ones.
So next time you receive feedback, smile, say thank you, and – after a few days – consider how to build on your many strengths… and pick out a couple of things that resonate with you as areas to improve. You’ll get the biggest benefit that way.