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Encouraging Critical Feedback

Can I give you some unsolicited feedback? You’re doing something wrong. It’s really holding you back. I think you know what I’m talking about.

How did those words make you feel? Irritated? Defensive? Humbled? Eager to improve and learn more?

Critical feedback is vital to leadership improvement. Leading effectively is just too difficult without effective feedback flowing your way. Your ability to attract such feedback is determined, in large measure, by how well you’ve responded to past criticism.

If others willingly give you critical feedback, well done: You’ve fostered a culture of respect. If they don’t, however, there are ways you can invite more honest feedback.

3 Tips to Welcome Critical Feedback

Here are three easy tips to encourage constructive critical feedback:

1. Really Listen. The #1 mistake when receiving feedback is speaking too much. Sincerely absorb what your audience is saying and give them room to elaborate. Don’t jump to a rebuttal. An easy way to show you’re listening is to repeat it back: “What I hear you saying is…”

2. Make a Change. When you make a change based on constructive feedback – and clearly communicate that change – it sends a signal you value critical input. Even a modest change tells team members, critics or customers their feedback matters to you.

3. Give Thanks. Getting critical feedback isn’t easy, but isn’t it amazing how much easier it is to stomach when you accept it as a gift. Remember two powerful words: “Thank you.”  Consider rewarding brutally honest feedback with sincere generosity. A small token of appreciation – a gift certificate for a customer or a team-building day for employees – goes a long way.

What If You Get NO Feedback?

One of the biggest fears effective leaders have is being isolated from the truth.

If you find yourself getting no feedback, contact me. Let’s diagnose why that is and how to get the feedback flowing.