How do you respond when feedback is offered to you? It can be helpful, critical or just plain off-the-wall, but how do you take it? It can be a measure of your maturity, a test by a boss, a quick side comment or a turning point in your life. How you respond can be as important as any action you might take in your personal development, so let’s focus on that skill for a minute or two.
First, eagerly ask for feedback: It’s no surprise some people struggle to move ahead in this life when they don’t ever ask for feedback. “Gee, out of nowhere I got fired just before the Holidays!” Really? Out of nowhere?
It may have seemed out of nowhere to you but to the rest of the people around you the handwriting was right there on the wall for everyone to see! (That’s not always the case, but too many times it is.) Actively and eagerly ask for feedback. You’ll be the final judge of what you want to do with that information, but always seek it. Even a boss or co-worker you don’t like might give you a clue you will find helpful.
And so what do I do with this information? As I just mentioned, you’ll be the final judge, but let me provide a few suggestions. First, don’t be too quick to reject ideas out-of-hand. I had a recent meeting with a client where I offered two quick suggestions to help her. Almost before I got the ideas out she rejected one immediately! Perhaps she had a deeper reason for her response, but I couldn’t help but think her response was much too quick. The best responses you can have when feedback is offered is to thank the person and let them know you’ll really think about they have said. (And then do it!)
For good advice, be sure to find a special way to say thanks: Take a moment to think of some of the best advice you have received over the years. Have you gone back to thank those people? When I have done that it has been hard to tell who felt better about the exchange – me or the person I was telling. For me it was significant because I was making a full circle journey, going back to them to say how much progress I had made based on their feedback. For them it was like receiving an unexpected, beautifully wrapped present! Most everyone is happy to learn they have helped another human being.
Finally, be that person for others: Whether you call it “Paying it Forward” or you see it as part of your faith journey or you just like doing things for others, be a person who provides helpful, constructive feedback. When you are known as “that person” people value your leadership, wisdom and consideration. You simply become a more significant person to those around you, and that is an admirable goal for any of us.
In this season of Holiday giving, I hope you find a valuable lesson in these words and I wish you great success in the New Year!
Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer
Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.