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Using Feedback Constructively

Feedback is one of the best ways that we can improve ourselves and our companies. Companies will conduct surveys to solicit feedback from customers and employers will provide feedback to their employees ... but it is what you do with the feedback that counts!

This has always been one of my "Achilles heels"! I took poor feedback very personally, and really had a tough time putting it into the right context. If I am honest this is still something that I have to actively work at! If people give me negative feedback about my company my first reaction is to defend the company ... which is absolutely the wrong way to react! This is a perfect opportunity to learn and understand the relevance of that feedback, and to make a business decision about whether to address it, and if so, what to do to fix the issue.

It is exactly the same for personal feedback, whether in an annual review or otherwise. Some people are really good at being objective when they get feedback. Others (like me) need to take three deep breaths and process the data without taking it personally! However, just like company feedback this is an excellent chance to use that feedback constructively.

My impression of the workforce today is that most people are like me, and not so good at taking feedback. I would go further and say that many people actually ask for the feedback, say all the right words about feedback ... but when they get honest feedback they take it badly!

Here are some thoughts on the subject:

1. We can all get better ... probably at lots of things. Feedback helps!
2. If you are heading into a situation where you will be getting feedback, then mentally prepare yourself to be dispassionate about it. Do NOT take it personally.
3. If you are caught unawares with some negative feedback take time to process the data before responding.
4. Never attack someone who is giving you feedback ... ask lots of questions to be sure that you truly understand what it is that they are saying.
5. Take the feedback away and process it in your own time. If you need to cool down first that is all good.
6. Try to look at yourself from the other person's viewpoint and understand whether there is some truth in the feedback (usually there is!).
7. Use this as a great tool to get better at whatever is being discussed.
8. Remember you cannot fix what you don't know is a problem. They are doing you a favour by giving you data you can act upon.
9. You still don't have to like the feedback, you don't have to feel good about the feedback, but you can feel good that you can do something about it!

Smile and Walk Fast!