|Responding to feedback
1. Recognize Your Strengths
Be proud of your strengths. Be proud of your desire to do the right thing. If you have trouble thinking of your strengths, go back to the last chapter on personalities. Think about what you are good at doing. Think about what you feel natural doing and remember that all tasks are not equally easy.
2. Be Open to Improvements
What may have been your best intention could have a result that could be even better than what you accomplished. You are not the sum of just one bit of feedback. You have many talents. Try not to feel attacked and don’t explain until you have listened sufficiently.
Listen until the person who is giving you feedback either gives you the option to respond or there is a pause in which you can say what you would like to convey. Often when I am given feedback, I say, “You’re right,” and I mean it.
4. Acknowledge the Feedback
Here’s where paraphrasing is a great tool. It is important to acknowledge the feedback. Paraphrase what the other person is saying. It is his or her perception. Acknowledging is not agreeing. Paraphrasing will let the giver of the feedback know that you have heard it. If the person had enough courage to give you feedback, he or she deserves to know that you have heard it.
- “So you think the process I’m following needs to be simplified.”
- “You would like to see more output.”
- “You saw me be abrupt with a customer.”
- “A client complained that she was waiting for me a long time in the lobby.”
You have to acknowledge what the other person has said, even if your emotions are kicked into gear and you know more about the situation than the other person does. This is a hard thing to do. It is normal to “fight back” or explain. Responding to feedback is a skill, just like any others skill. It takes thought and practice.
If you know something that may help in a feedback discussion, facts may help to clarify a situation. Try to use facts though, instead of a defensive discourse. If you do not think the feedback is accurate or think that the other person is unaware of the details, expand on his or her thought, as in the examples:
- “So you think the process I’m following needs to be simplified. Let’s see if we can take it step-by-step to determine how it can be easier.”
- “You would like to see more output. Do you have any ways that you think we could produce more?”
- “You saw me be abrupt with a customer. That must have been when I talked with Mr. King. He was rude to me. At the time, I thought a very direct response was actually appropriate. In retrospect, I should have suggested that we go somewhere private and discuss the contract he did not want to sign. That would have given us both an opportunity to catch our breath and diffuse some of the dissention.”
- “The client who complained that she was left in the lobby for a long time might have been Mrs. Thompson. I was waiting for her to call me so I could go get her. If she called, I didn’t hear the phone. I will contact her and find out what happened. I will apologize for her being inconvenienced and waiting so long.”
Notice that none of these responses was negative. Negative responses would be like:
- “It wasn’t my fault.”
- “She should have called back if she was waiting so long.”
- “He was rude enough to be thrown out of the building.”
- “Why do you always believe what you hear?”
6. Make a Plan
Sometimes, a plan for correction is easy. “I’ll correct that next time.” Other times, it might take more thought. Work with the other person to see whether the problem should be corrected immediately, whether it needs to be researched, or if it is a pattern that can be rectified. Your receptivity speaks louder than the problem.
- “I’ll keep my cell with me or be around a phone when I am expecting a call.”
- “The process that we revised sounds good. I’ll try it with two others first and we’ll see whether it works.”
When feedback involves a pattern, such as being abrupt with more than one customer, training or coaching might be helpful. Or both might be the most effective. The best scenario is for you and the person giving the feedback to come up with a solution and to agree that the solution is worth trying.
7. Say Thanks
You are both professionals in the feedback process. Thanking someone for giving you feedback enhances your working relationship. As resolving conflict brings you closer, so does giving and receiving feedback if it is done in the right way. Express appreciation for the interchange.