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Chapter 6. Block 3—Understanding Your Pe... > How to Nurture Good Feedback

How to Nurture Good Feedback

Remember, for most people, criticizing (even in a constructive way) is a risky business. When people first do it, they will watch very closely to see what happens. The reaction received usually determines whether such feedback will be given again. You can avoid turning off future feedback by:

  1. Staying nondefensive. Listen—don’t explain or justify. Learn to bite your tongue. This is not the time to explain or justify actions even when we feel the criticism is unwarranted or stems from a misunderstanding. When you ask for feedback, the burden is on you to listen and try to understand. This does not mean you are obligated to believe or accept the criticism, but try to understand why the other person feels and reacts the way he or she does.

    Defensiveness stifles the flow of feedback, for it tells the other person you are more interested in justifying yourself than in understanding him.

  2. Ask for more. Especially in the open, verbal feedback process, there is an opportunity to get additional information. If you can honestly say, “That’s helpful, tell me more—is there anything else I should know about that?” this will encourage the continual flow of feedback.

  3. Express an honest reaction. The person giving the feedback often wants to know your reaction to the data he has presented. The best guideline is to express your honest reaction. “I’m a little surprised you said that, but you probably have a point.” or “I’m not sure what to say. I never even thought of that, but I sure will from now on.”

  4. Thank those who give you feedback and plan for the future. Let people know that you realize how risky feedback giving can be and share your appreciation for their efforts. This might also be a good time to plan ahead for future feedback sessions, which should be less disturbing and more productive than the first one. Excellent leaders make this process a regular and ongoing one.



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