Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Feedback is a gift, right?

April 19, 2022 Cyndi Episode 66
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Feedback is a gift, right?
Show Notes

It’s said that feedback is a gift, right? That we should receive it as such, as a kindness and opportunity to learn. 

It’s helpful to know how to react, and that your reactions do matter. Not just for the person that is gifting you the feedback, for you as well.

I saw a list awhile back of all the ways we deflect. There were 13 ways, Can you imagine? I can because I just got some feedback last week. And maybe a lot of these did go thru my head. 
Typical reactions:

  • Flight: Victim: not my fault, minimize, deny, avoid
  • Fight: go aggressive: blame, attack, counter
  • Awkward: joke, exaggerate, invalidate

Back to my example of feedback I received last week. Someone came to me after the session and was not appreciative of an example I used. The perception was that I was making fun of a new idea. The long and short of it was I was simultaneously trying to understand the feedback and see her point of view, while being so surprised at the perception. I actually thought the idea was incredibly innovative and creative, so creating the perception of the opposite was hard to wrap my head around.

How we handle the feedback says a lot about our confidence and esteem. We need to be open to the perspectives of others to learn and grow. We need to consider our blind spots and areas that we aren’t even cognizant of, to strengthen these. Because I believe the best leaders are also the lifelong learners. They open themselves up to self-examination, and self-awareness only takes us so far. We need feedback to change and evolve. Ironically the more experience we have, or the more power we have in our leadership role—the less likely we are to be provided with the honest, transparent, and candid feedback. Because the risk to those around us is sometimes perceived as too great.

So when we do, focus on it gracefully and gratefully. Which means we have to acknowledge our body and brain’s protective mechanisms, which will surely jump in.

1.      Breathe (aka take a Pause)

  • Breathing brings oxygen to your brain. It allows you time to bring your thoughts and emotions to the surface.
  • Breathing and pausing allows you to respond rather than react. This is a choice that must be made deliberately.

2.     Notice Your Thoughts

  • Be an observer of your thoughts and reactions when others provide feedback. 
  • Negative emotions are caused by your thoughts.
  • Be open about your fears (if possible) and/or understand yourself what you are making the feedback “mean” about you.

3.     Seek to Understand

  • Remain calm.
  • Try to separate the content from the messenger and/or the way the message was delivered. Find the nugget of truth or learning.
  • Avoid reacting defensively and/or attempting to rationalize your actions.
  • Ask questions to understand.
  • Press for details or examples (in a non-defensive manner).
  • Make amends if appropriate. 

4.     Express Gratitude

  • Feedback is a gift and those that can give and receive it have the strongest and most trusting relationships with others.  Be graceful and grateful for the opportunity to learn.  

At the end of the day, I am appreciative of the perspectives of others. I want to learn a different point of view. I am a lifelong learner, not only about learning leadership lessons to share with others, but to those that I receive about myself. My own behaviors and actions. And when my message is not aligned with my intentions.

I learned a lot from the experience last week, that this is a lifelong practice. Getting comfortable with spontaneous feedback received in the moment, so much more challenging than teaching it.