Everyone can benefit from feedback now and then. Nobody has all the answers and it certainly helps to see things from a variety of perspectives.
Good, relevant feedback can help good leaders become great and that can make them a very powerful force in your organization. However, getting feedback is one thing – receiving it is another.
When you know how to receive feedback and apply it, it can be transforming. Constructive criticism is tough though. Sometimes honest feedback can really sting, but you want honesty. You don't want to be told what someone thinks you want to hear.
Learning how to quiet the ego and accept the information as an opportunity to learn and grow will make the process much easier. These tips will help you wrap your mind around the feedback process and begin applying it in your professional and personal life.
1. Analyze and Evaluate a Bit at a Time
While you may receive your feedback in one large chunk, especially if it comes from several sources, that doesn’t mean you have to process it that way. Taking it a bit at a time allows you to process the information and internalize it more effectively so that you can apply it more naturally.
If you are working with a coach, have them help you by taking the feedback in stages and finding best practices for incorporating it into your everyday life both in and out of the office.
2. Pace Yourself in the Application
Just as you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with the data from feedback, you also should not try to apply it all at once. Some behaviors may be easy to change, but others may feel completely contrary to your nature, requiring more of your time and energy – and that’s okay.
Take the time to process and apply the criticism in a way that works for you. It isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth it.
3. Practice Active Listening
Listening is a dying art. Most people are conditioned to listen only enough to form reasonable responses, not accept and process information that is presented to them and apply it effectively.
As you listen, ask questions and restate information that you are given to ensure that you understand the feedback. This is a time to focus on what is being said, not what you want to say.
4. Avoid Arguing, Just Listen
For most people, the knee-jerk reaction to feedback, especially if it is negative or painful, is to argue or take a defensive posture. In a perfect scenario, the feedback is presented in a safe, non-confrontational environment, but this may not always be the case.
If you are fortunate enough to experience the former, be grateful. If you find yourself in the latter, keep your eye on the goal and get a thick skin.
5. Practice a Positive Mindset
Your feedback will likely be in the form of a report, so you will have documentation for your own reference, but usually a coach or mentor will walk you through your feedback to help you understand and find the best ways to apply the information.
Criticism is often difficult to hear and can be even painful, but it is necessary and is a gift that, when used appropriately, can help you grow. When you are receiving the feedback, how you receive it, both mentally and physically, will help you when you begin applying it.
6. Mind Your Body Language
Your posture and body language both reflect and affect your mindset so keep yours in check. Keep your body language open. Crossing your arms or legs is a defensive posture and reinforces in your mind a defensiveness to the information you are receiving. Sit up straight, lean forward slightly, and maintain good eye contact. Keep your breathing slow and regular, even during times when the feedback may cause anxiety. Be mindful of your breathing.
Often, our breathing patterns change when we are anxious or under stress and we don’t realize it. If you find you are taking shorter, faster breaths, make a conscious effort to stop and breathe deeply.
7. Be Reflective and Conscious
Mindfulness can go a long way in making feedback effective. Instead of looking to be offended or feeling as if you have a spotlight on your faults, view it as opportunities to begin doing certain behaviors and stop doing others so that you can grow.
Sometimes it is necessary, albeit hard, to look at our weaknesses and faults in order to make the necessary changes that will facilitate growth.
8. Establish Measurable Goals and Benchmarks
When you are applying new behaviors and practices or changing old ones, there needs to be some way to monitor progress and determine effectiveness. You have to have a way of knowing what is effective and what isn’t.
Determining measurable goals and benchmarks gives you a visual of the application of your feedback, allowing you the ability to measure, monitor, and evaluate its efficacy and impact on the organization. Avoid overly complex formulas, keeping it simple, flexible, and manageable.
9. Apply and Evaluate
Whenever you introduce any new system, equipment, policy, or practice into an organization, there is a period of application followed by evaluation. You should follow the same pattern when applying feedback to your own behaviors and practices.
Evaluate what is working and what isn’t by lining it up with your goals and benchmarks as you hit them. Be ready to make necessary adjustments to bring your results more in line with your expectations and organizational needs.
Sometimes you may need to make major adjustments; other times just a few tweaks will suffice – but if it is working well, don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. Leave it as is and move on to the next step.
10. Apply it to your Professional and Personal Life
When you can apply feedback to both your professional and personal life, it becomes more natural and less stressful. Of course, you have to use your own judgment regarding what is appropriate for each arena. Many behaviors can be adapted into each so that they become not just “tricks” you learned, but inherent parts of your personality and defining aspects of who you are.
Get relevant, effective feedback from your 360 Degree Assessment with Edge Training Systems. Let us help with your leadership development programs with Edge products that are designed to build stronger leaders for organizations of any size.
Contact Edge Training Systems today and speak with a member of our friendly, knowledgeable staff to find out how we can help your leaders succeed and your organization grow.