Feedback can be an incredibly powerful tool for learning, when it is done well. It gives space to identify what is working, what isn’t, and what needs to be developed. Feedback can be considered a gift that shows you the perspective of others, allowing you to learn from them, reflect and decide how to move forward.
But here is the thing about feedback, it can be hard to ask for and you don’t always get the feedback you want. Here are 6 simple strategies to help you ask for and receive the feedback you want.
- GET CURIOUS about what you specifically want feedback on before you make ‘the ask’ and be specific when you ask. The more specific the ask, the more specific will be the feedback. Perhaps you want to know how you show up, how others see you, the quality of the contribution you make in a specific situation, how effective you at supporting learning. If you ask someone how they thought you did at the presentation yesterday, the feedback may be ‘fine’. How useful is that?
- USE OPEN QUESTIONS (who, what, where, when, and how) when asking them so they have opportunity to form opinions and develop their perspectives. If you use closed questions that may limit their observations and narrow the information provided. ‘What do you feel I do well with my clients?’ is going to give you a much different answer than ‘Do you think I work well with my clients?’ Open questions are going to support your learning in what’s working, what isn’t and how best you can develop.
Example: Maybe you think you are wondering if you make a significant contribution at your team meetings so you ask for feedback. That might look like this:
I would like to have some feedback on how I show up at our team meetings, how much I contribute to the conversation. I wonder if you could observe me at the meeting and notice how much I contribute compared to the others. Also, perhaps you could comment on how I could contribute differently that might add more value.
*Bonus tip: If you freeze up and can’t think of an open question on the spot – tell me more is a great way to keep the conversation open and learn more.
Receiving the gift of feedback:
- ACTIVELY LISTEN: Show the person you are asking feedback from respect by attentively listening to everything that they have said, even if you don’t love what you hear. Let everything else go in that moment so you can be present, focus on the speaker and listen to what they have to say. If you find your emotional buttons are getting pushed, take a deep breath, get curious, ask an open question, and listen to better understand their perspective.
- REMAIN OPEN: You are requesting to learn the perspective of another person so it is important to remain open to listen and learn their perspective. Judging, blaming, or shaming of self or others is not only going to shut down the conversation, it is going limit your ability to learn. If you feel yourself shutting down, keep asking open question to better understand exactly what they are saying so you don’t leave the conversation with assumptions or misunderstandings. Instead of thinking in a ‘right/wrong’ context, think of how and what you can do differently. So if you are told you ‘should do something a different way’ think about it as a ‘do differently’, not that you are doing it ‘wrong’ now.
- SHOW GRATITUDE: Thank the provider of feedback and acknowledge that they have taken time out of their busy schedule to observe you and develop feedback.
- TAKE ACTION: Reflect on what you heard, where you are now and how you want to move forward – then develop a plan to make it happen. Feedback is only useful if you put it into action. If you are not prepared to make changes and take action then it is important to consider the reasons you are asking for feedback.
What are some strategies that you have used to get the feedback you want?