Feedback is not something to be feared or avoided, says Marsha Egan
What is your reaction when you think of “constructive criticism”? Right. So, let’s change the words to something more positive. Feedback. Doesn’t that sound better? They both mean the same thing, but the connotation of constructive criticism is a communication blocker rather than an enabler.
Feedback Is Your Friend
Now that we’ve gotten the semantics out of the way, let’s dive into why feedback is healthy and helpful, and explore ways to ask for it, accept it gracefully, and learn from it without being upset.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that feedback provides valuable insights. When someone offers feedback, they are essentially sharing their observations and suggestions based on their own experiences and expertise. Their perspective can shed light on aspects we may have overlooked or misunderstood. It’s like receiving a different pair of eyes to view our work or actions from a new angle. This fresh viewpoint can uncover hidden strengths and highlight areas that need improvement, helping us to grow both personally and professionally.
Ask for it
To harness the power of feedback, it’s essential to know how to ask for it. Approach your colleagues, supervisors, or mentors and express your willingness to receive feedback. Let them know that you value their insights and are genuinely interested in improving yourself. By taking the initiative to seek feedback, you create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable offering their perspectives, leading to a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas.
Accept it gracefully
Once you’ve opened the door to feedback, the next step is learning how to accept it gracefully. It’s natural to feel defensive or even hurt when someone points out areas we can improve. However, remember that feedback is not a personal attack; it’s an opportunity for growth. Take a moment to process the feedback objectively and detach it from your self-worth. Keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes and has room for improvement. Embrace the idea that feedback is not a reflection of failure but an invitation to become better. By adopting this mindset, you can welcome feedback with an open mind and eye toward the future.
Learn from it
Learning from feedback is a crucial skill to develop. Instead of dismissing or ignoring it, or worse, “shooting the messenger,” embrace the valuable lessons it offers. Take the time to analyze the feedback, identify patterns, and determine actionable steps for improvement. Consider the intentions behind the feedback and evaluate whether it aligns with your goals and values. Remember, not all feedback is equal; it’s essential to distinguish between constructive feedback and baseless negativity. Embrace the former and discard the latter, focusing only on the insights that can help you grow.
Beware the emotional response
Lastly, it’s important to overcome the emotional response that feedback can evoke. It’s natural to feel upset or discouraged initially, but don’t let those emotions define your journey. Instead, channel them into positive energy and motivation for improvement.
Just remember, feedback is not something to be feared or avoided. It is a powerful career strategy that can propel us towards growth and success. By asking for feedback, accepting it gracefully, learning from it, and overcoming any emotional distress it may cause, we can harness its benefits.
A successful individual is not one who shields themselves from feedback but rather one who embraces it and learns from it. So, let’s welcome feedback with open arms and unlock our true potential for growth and achievement.
And for goodness’s sake, join me in banishing the words “constructive criticism” from our leadership vocabulary, once and for all.