Take Feedback Into Your Own Hands

Avoiding feedback does not mean that perceptions are not there; it just means that you don’t get to hear what people think of you. People have their opinions about you already; soliciting their feedback merely gives you the chance to hear what they think, so you can choose whether you want to do something about it or not. 

Just last week, someone I trust offered me feedback on my public speaking. They shared that at times I run out of breath and get softer at the end of sentences. They suggested consulting a voice coach to break some of those speaking “habits”. It’s accurate >> I’ve heard it before. It’s delivered by someone I trust who wants the best for me. It was still difficult to take it in. But, it’s my job to grow. Feedback like this is actually empowering >> depending on my response to it. So, here are a few tips we can learn together as we take feedback into our own hands.

Guard against turning a “state” into a “trait”. We take a piece of feedback that’s related to a behavior (state), and we turn it into a characteristic about ourselves (trait). Instead, focus on the specific behavior. Don’t let it define who you are.

Notice the two sides of the same coin. The feedback may reflect a strength that you dialed up a little too much. Notice the strength or positive intention behind the possible negative feedback and simply re-calibrate the application of your strength going forward.

You don’t always have to act on feedback. It is simply feedback—useful information that can provide you with insight. What actions you take as a result is up to you. If you choose to act on it, circle back around and let them know what you did or did not do. Use it as an opportunity to invite further feedback.

“It’s natural to justify or explain rather than slow down and listen to what the person is saying.”

I am learning to diffuse my emotional response to feedback. It’s natural to justify or explain rather than slow down and listen to what the person is saying. Instead, lift the feedback away from the conversation and decide what to do (or not do). 

I am even learning to take it a step further and validate how hard it is to offer feedback and thank them for having the courage to do so. A thank you doesn’t mean you agree >> it is simply acknowledging the time and effort (and often courage) to share honest feedback. 

Next Steps:

It’s scary to invite people to give us feedback, especially constructive feedback. But, join me in giving it a try >> pick one or two people you trust and have confidence they are in your corner and will help you grow. 

  1. Pick an area that you would like feedback >> to know how others perceive you
  2. Write down your own observations in this area.
  3. Ask your people for feedback >> be specific, listen, ask more questions, take notes, and thank them
  4. Compare their  feedback with your own observations
  5. Choose one thing you will commit to do to foster your growth. 

Let’s push ourselves to grow in our ability to diffuse and dissect the feedback, even feedback that isn’t delivered well or with our best interest in mind. Remember, feedback can help you move forward.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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