The Words of Leadership: Feedback (Part 2 - How to receive)

In this second article about feedback, we will focus on our fear of feedback, how to receive feedback, and, last but not least, we will disclose the rule number zero of feedback.

[Lorenzo Conti] · 930 words · 5 min read · Sep 27, 2023
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This is the second part of our article on feedback. You can read the first part by following this link: The Words of Leadership: Feedback (Part 1 - How to give) .

The fear of feedback

The fear of feedback is a natural reaction that many of us encounter in various aspects of our lives. This can be broken down into a few key reasons:

  • Vulnerability: Feedback can make us feel exposed and vulnerable. It often involves hearing about our mistakes or areas where we need improvement. This vulnerability can lead to defensiveness and a fear of judgment.
  • Desire for Approval: We all want to be seen in a positive light, and feedback that points out flaws or errors can feel like a threat to our self-esteem. The fear of receiving negative feedback can stem from our desire to be liked and accepted by others.
  • Change is Unsettling: Feedback often implies the need for change or improvement, and change can be scary. It disrupts our sense of routine and familiarity, leading to resistance and fear of the unknown.
  • Past Experiences: Previous negative experiences with feedback can leave lasting impressions. If we’ve faced harsh criticism or felt unfairly judged in the past, we may develop a fear of feedback as a result.

Overcoming the fear of feedback is about changing your perspective. Instead of seeing it as criticism, view feedback as a chance to learn and grow. Start small by asking for feedback from people you trust, and be specific about what you’re looking for. Listen carefully, ask questions to understand better, and take time to reflect on the feedback. Use it to set goals and make improvements.

Remember, nobody’s perfect, so be kind to yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.

How to receive feedback

Receiving feedback can be challenging, but it’s an essential part of your personal and professional growth. Whether you receive feedback related to a project, presentation, or your own performance, mastering the art of handling it constructively is essential. Here, you’ll find some valuable pointers on receiving feedback effectively:

Be open-minded

The first step in receiving feedback is to be open-minded. Remember that feedback is meant to be constructive and help you improve, so try not to take it personally. Stay calm and listen carefully to what the person is saying. Ask questions if you’re unclear about anything they say.

Listen actively

Listening actively means being fully present in the moment and giving your full attention to the person giving you feedback. It involves taking in what they say and considering their perspective. Try to listen without interrupting or defending yourself.

Clarify the feedback

To ensure you understand the feedback, ask clarifying questions. You might say something like, “So what I’m hearing you say is that I need to improve my time management skills. Is that correct?” This not only ensures that you understand the feedback but also shows that you’re taking it seriously.

Breath and take time to process

After you receive the feedback, take a breath and allow yourself some time to process it. Reflect on what was said and let the feedback sink in, giving it the time it deserves. Be aware that you may experience certain emotions, and it’s your choice how to deal with the feedback. If you’re feeling emotional, it’s okay to take a break and return to it later.

Thank the person for their feedback

It’s important to thank the person who gave you feedback, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. Thank them for taking the time to provide feedback and let them know that you’ll take their suggestions seriously. This shows that you’re willing to learn and grow.

Follow up

If you’re working on a project or presentation, it’s a good idea to follow up with the person who gave you feedback. Let them know how you’ve applied their suggestions and ask for additional feedback. This demonstrates that you’re committed to improving and shows that you value their opinion..

To sum it up, embracing feedback constitutes a fundamental component of your personal and professional development. Maintaining an open mind, engaging in active listening, seeking clarification, allowing time for reflection, expressing gratitude for the feedback, and following up are key steps.

Rule Number Zero: Praise in Public, Criticize in Private

The principle “praise in public, criticize in private” emphasizes the fundamental principle of how to provide feedback effectively in a professional or social setting:

Praise in Public

When someone has done something well or deserves recognition for their achievements, it’s encouraged to provide praise and positive feedback in a public or group setting. This public acknowledgment can boost their morale, motivation, and self-esteem. It also reinforces positive behavior and can inspire others to follow suit.

Criticize in Private

Conversely, when you need to address areas where someone needs improvement or offer constructive criticism, it’s best to do so in a private and one-on-one setting. Publicly criticizing or pointing out someone’s mistakes can be embarrassing and counterproductive. Providing feedback privately allows for a more candid and constructive discussion without causing embarrassment or undermining their confidence.

This “rule number zero” is a guideline for maintaining a positive and respectful communication culture in which feedback is given in a manner that fosters growth, maintains morale, and promotes effective communication within a group or organization.

And remember, Feedback is a Gift!

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