It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Tom Dixon who offers practical career help on his blog Monday is Good. I encourage you to check out his blog and consider his coaching services. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.
First, let me say that feedback is a gift. We need more of it in our lives. The two best ways to get feedback are to actively solicit it from others, and to give it freely. The cruelest thing you can do to someone else is to withhold feedback that could help them grow. When you let something constructive go unsaid, you are stealing from that person.
Okay, so let’s say you agree with me so far. Feedback is good. But what if the message is negative? A friend calls you out for not meeting a commitment. A fellow motorist sends a hand gesture your way. Your spouse says you are working too late. Our first reaction when faced with these situations is often to get defensive or even angry. We don’t even consider that it may be true, or an opportunity to make a change.
I have found the best approach is to make a conscience decision about what my reaction is going to be. Take the emotion out of it. Evaluate the feedback constructively.
Feedback generally falls into one of these four quadrants:
Quadrant 1 – Embrace. This is feedback that is true, but you don’t care because it is consistent with a decision you already made. Your boss snidely comments that you always leave work right at 5PM. That part is true. However, you made a commitment to be home for dinner and help with homework every night. So the feedback serves to reinforce the decision you have already made – and you can embrace it.
Quadrant 2 – Ignore. This is feedback that isn’t true, and you don’t care – the superfluous stuff we spend a lot of time worrying about. Someone comments that they don’t like your shirt, or that your belt buckle is too big. The best thing to do with this feedback is ignore it.
Quadrant 3 – Change. This is feedback that is true, and you care because it reveals an inconsistency with a decision you have already made. This is where the value is – and the type of feedback you are looking for. A former boss points out an exaggeration on your resume. Your spouse tells you your family needs more of your time. The best thing to do with this feedback is make a plan and change.
Quadrant 4 – Damage Control. This is feedback that is not true, and you care because it suggests you are not living up to the standard you set for yourself. A colleague makes a derogatory comment about your work quality during a team meeting. These situations require you to confront the situation head on, and do some damage control. If that seems like too much, then you don’t really care that much and it’s really a quadrant 2 issue – so ignore it.
Actively choosing how best to respond to feedback allows us to make the most of it without taking it personally or getting angry. The trick is to pause as soon as you start to feel defensive, and evaluate what type of feedback you are dealing with.
Question: What is the most eye-opening feedback you have received? How did you respond?