Is Feedback really a gift?

Is Feedback really our Friend?

What truly is the working definition of great feedback?

Let’s start with this:

Psychological Safety is the cornerstone of Feedback.

All feedback is only as good as your ability to filter it, then grow from it, and then help others grow as well.

If you have taken any Leadership Development Certification classes with me, you know I am a junky for feedback. You also know that I never talk about feedback without going in to my pantomimed “arm’s length safety space.”

Feedback is absolutely one of the most powerful tools we will ever receive. It builds us, changes us, and creates new direction in our lives that make us better.

But first, we have to start by creating a Psychologically Safe space around ourselves. Bad feedback on a bad day can be truly damaging. Can I get an amen here? We have all been there.      

As we review the process of asking for feedback, managing feedback, and acting on feedback, please keep in mind that bad feedback is just bad news. BUT no feedback is worse news. We need feedback. It is truly powerful. Remember, we don’t have to agree with it, change because of it, or let it impact our self-esteem. We do have to learn how to get it and how to filter it. 

Think of this as the distance of your outstretched arm: I can lock my elbow mentally if I don’t agree with your words. I can do this while still safely listening and engaging with you. 

If you are a safe and proven source of feedback, my hand can come back to my body while my elbow relaxes. You get to come closer because you are a trusted source. This is my Psychological Safety practice. I am in control.

How do we grow by using feedback safely?

  1. Ask for feedback. Ask, ask, ask. Ask everybody. Ask all the time. 
  • The more you ask, the more you train people to be prepared to offer it and be ready to help you grow. 
  • Repetitive asking also creates a safe space for people to tell you the truth. They know you are going to ask and be okay with what they say, so they go head and say it. 
  • You learn by knowing what people think. You don’t have to agree or adapt, but by asking, you are receiving new perspectives.
  1. Manage, filter and file. Create categories for feedback so you can stay psychologically safe and still receive the power of the feedback.  Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the source of my feedback?
  • Do I trust the person or method?
  • Is the feedback verified from different sources and avenues of people who observe me?
  • Have I heard it over time?
  • Does my instinct/gut/emotional brain connect this to my rational/analytical/logical brain? Is there congruence?
  1. Chose, change, or challenge.
  • It is important to remember that you don’t have to change who you are based on the feedback you have received. You are you. Don’t change you. Chose what you want to incorporate.
  • You can learn from new information that makes you grow in your self-awareness.
  • You can change your behavior without changing who you are. If you hear a piece of feedback from a safe and trusted source that can help you improve, you can build a new method of communication. Adapting is easy. Changing who you are is hard.
  • Be okay challenging the feedback. Ask more questions. Be open to learning while staying an arm’s length distance from it hitting you too hard.

Feedback is truly a powerhouse of knowledge. It doesn’t have to be right or wrong, good or bad – it can simply be filtered and managed. This is a great way to learn how other people see you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Just be great at filtering.