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How to receive feedback

How to receive feedback

Last week, I delivered a program on Delivering Effective Feedback for the leadership team of one of my clients
Now this is usually the time of annual performance appraisals in most organizations and as such, these programs are in demand
However, what I do differently in these training sessions is that I actually start with a session on How to receive feedback
I feel that this is very important, as if you do not know how to receive feedback, you will not know how people feel and react, when you deliver feedback to your team members
So today, I want to talk about how you can get better in receiving feedback

1. First things first
Most people believe that feedback is positive or negative
But the truth is....
Feedback is simply, feedback. Nothing more, nothing less. It is neither positive, nor negative
It is information. It is data
It is an observation by a person about your behavior and performance.
How you perceive the feedback makes it positive or negative
For example, if someone tells you that you did not present well in a client meeting, that is how they perceived your presentation

They are simply telling you what they observed and how they felt about it


2. Whenever you are receiving feedback, make sure to listen with the true intent of listening and not with the intent to respond or react Remember that giving feedback to you is one of the core responsibilities of your manager. It is their job

More importantly, it is an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and to grow

3. Feedback discussion is NOT about your manager. It is NOT about your peers
It is about YOU. Many a times, team members tend to bring in other variables during a feedback discussion
They start pointing fingers on how others are behaving and what others are doing/not doing
If you do so, then you lose focus from the discussion at hand

4. Now comes the most interesting part. When you receive feedback, you have three choices :

I call it the ARC Choice Framework
a) Accept it
b) Reject it

c) Contest it
Lets talk about acceptance first
You can accept feedback on face value. It is what it is
But do not just accept for the sake of it, accept with a sense of acknowledgement and openness
Only when you accept feedback, it will create options for you to do something about it
Second choice - Reject
You can outrightly reject the feedback, but it will NOT change the feedback. This is what most people do not understand
Your stakeholders and people around you will continue to perceive you the same way, unless you do something about
Third choice - Contest
You can contest feedback, but make sure you have very specific examples or evidence to back you
Remember, if you contest feedback, it may not necessarily change the feedback, but it allows you a space to state your case
In some cases, it is possible that the manager might change the opinion, but if it is officially documented, by and large, feedback will remain the same
But don not contest for the sake of arguments. Do not contest to prove you are right and your manager is wrong
Be curious to know why others are perceiving things differently. That is when you can do something about it

5. Another area which gets ignored in most cases is the follow-up post feedback discussion
If you receive feedback and do not do anything about it, then nothing will change for you. It becomes a lost cause
So once you receive feedback, go back and reflect. Look at what you have been told, what is that you could have done better
Give yourself time to assimilate the information, and then create an action plan of how you will want to work in those areas
Set up a follow-up meeting with your manager to discuss the action plan and next steps

This will show that you are ready to take charge and move forward


6. Finally, if you receive feedback that you are doing well in certain areas, make sure you acknowledge and feel proud about
Sometimes, we pay too much attention to what is not working well ( areas of improvement ), and we do not acknowledge and celebrate enough that we are doing well in certain areas.
So make sure you understand your strengths and how you can build on them in the future

I hope these points can help you be more receptive to feedback going forward

On a parting note, I do want to acknowledge that annual performance appraisal delivery is a massive exercise in most organizations

But no matter how elaborate the process you may have within your organization, if your leadership team and your managers are NOT trained on delivering effective feedback, then the entire process is not as impactful as it should be. Think about it and if you need help, drop me a note  


Anyways, taking the discussion forward. Here is something for you to go back and reflect on :

1) How do you typically respond when you receive feedback ? What is your immediate reaction ?

2) When someone tells you that you are doing well, how do you react ? What is your biggest challenge in accepting compliments ?
3) If there was one thing you would like to change about how you receive feedback, what would that be ?


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