If you’ve already read my post on “5 Tips For The Best 1:1s With Your Manager,” then you know that I cherish my friend’s life-changing quote about constructive criticism: “Feedback is a gift.”
For a lot of us, we cringe at the thought of hearing the question “Can I give you some feedback?” And truth be told, I still do at times - though a lot less often than before. It’s easy to feel sensitive, defensive, embarrassed, or discouraged when someone evaluates your performance and seems to be putting it under a microscope for you to see.
But in the end, you can always come out a huge winner. Just as it’s important to know how to give feedback, you should learn how to receive it the right way, too.
Have An Open Mind
When someone offers you feedback, try your best to listen with open ears, objective eyes, and a patient heart. That person - whether your manager, coworker, or direct report - means well and wants to help you and your company succeed and thrive. They’re trying to share important insights that can improve your performance and your team’s. And they’re probably putting a lot of thought and effort behind it and how it’ll be received; so, an attitude of gratitude goes a long way.
Specifically with managers, when you create an atmosphere where your manager feels comfortable sharing honest feedback - by being open and candid yourself and being receptive to receiving it - you’ll get a very clear sense of how you’re progressing and how you can improve.
Take A Moment
It’s important not to react automatically. Take a breath and give yourself a few moments to just take it in, reflect, see from their point of view, and give the benefit of the doubt. By not letting yourself react right away, you can avoid doing or expressing something (e.g., negative facial expression) that you’ll regret or that’s counterproductive.
Get Clarification & Share Your Perspective
To make sure that you understand them correctly, it’s good to reflect back to them what you think they’re saying and to ask for examples, if needed.
“I see. So, you think that I should be more assertive in team meetings? Can you please give me some examples of when you think I haven’t been?”
It’s easy to misinterpret people’s meanings or not fully understand their points, for many reasons. So, err on the side of caution and make sure you’re on the same page.
And, if there’s something you don’t agree with or want to have a dialogue about, you should express yourself - in a professional, learning-minded way.
"I see it differently, and I want to share my perspective with you. <Perspective>"
"I understand you, <First_Name>. To give you more context, I'm pretty extroverted, and I'm consciously working on being a better listener in team situations."
Once you’re clear on what you both agree should and can be improved, brainstorm some solutions. Try to proactively offer some solutions first - the more specific the better - and then ask for input on those and any additional ideas. This’ll make you feel more empowered and involved in your growth.
“I think this strategy might help me improve: I’ll try to offer my opinion or suggestions at least a couple times during each team meeting. And, I’ll work on adopting more assertive behaviors - like standing up straight, speaking more clearly and audibly, and making more eye contact. What do you think? And, do you have any other ideas you’d like me to try?”
Have A “Growth Mindset”
Here's how groundbreaking psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck describes those with the “Growth Mindset”:
“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.”
By adopting this way of thinking, each piece of feedback becomes a golden opportunity to learn, grow, and get closer to living your most successful, rewarding, and impactful life.