We all know that feedback is an essential part of any relationship, most especially in the workplace. When feedback is positive, it helps us feel confident and capable, and let's us know that we are valued.
How about when feedback is constructive?
Constructive feedback can be so much harder to take. It can often leave us feeling put down or even defensive. Even more so when we are in a leadership role. When you are dedicated to management and juggling several balls at once, any indication that you could be doing better or maybe aren't doing enough can sure feel like an attack. That's a very natural and human response.
However, I challenge you to flip the record of how you perceive feedback. If every bit of feedback you receive, positive or constructive, leads you to see an opportunity for growth, you will become a stronger leader. Dr. Don Powell of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine offers this list of questions to ask the next time you are presented with constructive feedback:
Does the feedback seem reasonable? Is there some truth to what was said? Perhaps you should pay attention to the remark.
Have I been given the same feedback by other people on the same issue? If so, maybe it warrants attention.
Does the person providing the feedback know what he or she is talking about? If he or she is a self-appointed critic-at-large, ignore the remark.
Was the remark really directed at me, or was the critic venting general frustration, anger, or bitterness at something over which I have no control? If negative feedback stems from general dissatisfaction, let it slide. Resist the impulse to defend yourself.
Is the criticism based on a difference of opinion? If so, don’t overreact, but open your mind and welcome a longer discussion about your team member's frustrations.
When you apply this type of critical thinking before becoming emotional, you will begin to see feedback as an opportunity rather than something threatening or offensive. Therefore, the next time you hear feedback - especially any comment that suggests you could be doing better - be sure and reference these questions, so that you can curb your reaction, act accordingly, and ultimately, improve as a leader.