I use to avoid feedback. Even if someone had good intentions, anything they shared with me about areas of improvement, well - I just took it personally.
I felt attacked, even where there was no attack intended.
I'm pretty sure my role-model for this feedback-avoidance and sensitivity started with my 'family culture' where we never really said what we meant and felt. The goal was to not rock the boat. We didn't state the facts, express discontent or tell someone that something they were doing was not working.
This feedback-avoidance approach, stayed with me well into my adult-life. I didn't like to receive feedback and I wasn't very good at giving it.
Early on in my career one of my managers took the time to thoughtfully talk with me about my work and how I was doing. He shared, in specific detail, what was working AND what he thought I could improve upon. His approach was so effective, and what he shared was so helpful, I was amazed.
He'd been direct, supportive, honest and didn't hold anything back. My biggest ah-ha: I didn't die!
It's funny to me now because I get and give feedback all day, every day, in my professional and personal life. But back then, I held the
illogical notion that feedback could permanently hurt me, and I avoided it as much as possible.
Today I feel a certain
thrill every time I ask a group of people, at the end of a workshop or client engagement, what worked well and what could have gone better.
As I'm charting their answers for everyone to see,
I'm thrilled because I know that I will get insight that will help me see what they see. I know now that their suggestions are going to help me move closer to the expert status I crave.
Changing my perspective, from: "FEEDBACK, OH NO!" to "FEEDBACK, BRING IT ON!" has helped me grow. It has helped me learn how to have authentic and transparent conversations, creating richer and more meaningful relationships.
Every day I hear and see leaders struggle with
how to strike the right balance
between being direct, supportive, honest and not holding anything back. I've created many tools and resources about feedback that I share in
Sessions, on my
and in my
"You know, it's not bullets - it's not going to
kill you. It's a gift..."
SVP Dennis Wallenta on the topic of feedback, Podcast #24.