I have written about feedback before and I’m doing it again thanks to a recent experience.
The details of the experience don’t really matter. What matters is that I have had similar experiences before and but this, I perceived it very differently.
Allow me to start with a simple statement you already know.
There could be many reasons for people to stay quiet. The majority of them probably boil down to I don’t really trust you’ll value my opinion or do something with it; so why should I bother?”
Here are four (4) tips to improve your chances of proper feedback.
No. 1 – Seriously! Be Specific
Really, stop with the generic “Do you have any feedback for me?”
This question doesn’t work. Firstly, I really don’t have enough time to tell you all the things I could. Secondly, I have too many topics to choose from and that takes too much energy. And thirdly, I don’t want to choose whether you want to hear the good, the bad, or the ugly.
The solution? Use a specific open ended question.
- When it comes to my ABC skills, what has worked well? What could have been better?
- In the last 3 months, what behaviors would you like me to keep repeating? Which ones should I stop doing?
- I’d like to be great at ABC, what could I do to improve?
No. 2 – Assume They Know Better Than You
I know the gurus tell us to consider the source of the feedback before taking it to heart. That’s a valid point and should be done; but there is a flaw in the way people implement that advice. They judge the messenger before anything is said. Thus, they quickly look to defend themselves or discredit what is said.
On the contrary, if I assume they know better than me, I have to listen to what they are saying. I actually want to know what they know. I can deal with the evaluation later. But at the moment of the event, I’m ready to hear and welcome their opinion.
We are always willing to listen to the experts.
No. 3 – Always Follow-up With A Curious Question
What I have learned is that I should never make a statement addressing the feedback. That’s an easy way to diminish the opinion of the person.
Whether they are right or wrong doesn’t matter. It took a lot of courage to share. The least I can do is validate their effort.
The common advice is to just say thank you.
Why not take it to the next level and ask them to expand on their comment?
- What did you mean by X?
- What gave you that impression?
- What did I do that created the result you are telling me about?
The questions are limitless. All you have to do is listen and stay curious.
No. 4 – The Best Feedback Is Always Unplanned
I wrote about this before, so I won’t repeat the details. What I mean is the most honest feedback I have received is a spur of the moment event.
It comes in many different styles with a common thread: emotion. The person genuinely and immediately reacts to something I have done or said.
A laughter, a clever remark, a gesture, or a joke are some examples.
I say it is best because it’s genuine, unfiltered, and uncut.
When we allow people to prepare for a feedback session, there’s a lot of time to think about it. And in doing so, people tend to filter and edit their words. This is a valid approach but it has its drawbacks.
The tip here is simple: be keenly aware of what people do after you have done or said something. Their reactions will definitely provide opportunities to find some gold.
How do you find the gold? Go back to tip number 3.
What tips do you have to gather useful feedback?