Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday, April 2, 2007

Feedback is an abstract concept!

How good are you at handling feedback?

Who relishes the suggestions - unsolicited or otherwise - about how you could be better at what you do? I for one have needed some training on how to handle it.

Recently, I had a tough day. Three people who I admire and have worked hard to support for the last few months decided to give me some feedback. One was direct and I thank him for it. Two were indirect and I am less grateful for that, but appreciative none the less. The upshot of their feedback was that they were disappointed in the value they achieved out of their relationship with me.

It’s hard not to take feedback personally, especially when you care so much about what you do. Hard to hear, but we have to get used to the idea that not everyone will like us. One of my early mentors told me that when you lead you won’t always be popular. He gave me this mantra “Some will, some won’t, so what” (I think this comes from a MLM rejection preparation training program, aka Amway)

It’s easy to get defensive when receiving feedback. I am also clever and so it’s not hard to rationalise away the feedback as the ravings of lunatics. The thing is, in this case, I couldn’t cop out that way. The people are very talented and I admired them too much to not let the feedback get through my well built defence mechanism (Darn it!).

Here are three suggestions that helped me through this bummer of a day.

  • Pretend the feedback was something you asked for! That way you get to own the comments. Pretend that you invited the person to offer advice.
  • Find out what the theme of the feedback is. Not the specifics of the feedback. ‘Abstract’ the comments up to a higher level. Ask yourself ‘what is the context of the feedback?’ as opposed to analysing the content of the feedback.
  • Take self determined action to address the theme, and the feedback itself will disappear.

Next time you get a bit of good advice, specifically ignore it and instead analyse it for themes. Growth comes from the themes of our life, not the specific events.