In my last article (Do you want to grow? Really?) I talked about the type of culture you need to build if you want everyone to grow and learn.
And although culture is vital, eventually personal growth (which leads to business growth) is up to you. It’s your responsibility, hopefully, supported by your organisation.
In this second article on feedback, I outline the two opposite responses to giving and gaining feedback, and a specific way to take it on, let people know they’ve been heard, and take action.
There’s nothing more exciting, more invigorating, more rewarding than personal growth. And for you as a leader, the MANTRA remains the same.
GROW YOUR TEAM.
GROW YOUR BUSINESS.
Two ways of Handling Feedback
Overall, I see two broad ways that people handle feedback.
EMBARGO – they stop it from entering their psyche
EMBRACE – They take it on as a possibility to think about or act upon
Often related to shipping, an embargo is:
“An order to officially stop something, especially trading or information”.
And some people put a total embargo on feedback. They don’t listen, they don’t explore it, they don’t let it in.
But if this is you, it’s not your fault. Your brain is built brilliantly to protect you. So if you perceive feedback as a threat, then it’s only natural to protect yourself.
And like the old Sabre Tooth Tiger metaphor we’ve heard forever, you go right to your reptilian brain and the amygdala. You go to what others called the lizard brain, crocodile, or reptile response.
FREEZE (Say Nothing)
So, any EMBARGO response is one in which you don’t take responsibility for hearing or processing the feedback. And an EMBRACE response is where you do.
“the act of accepting something willingly or enthusiastically”
It’s as if there is an imaginary line (a bit like a Plimsoll line in a boat) of responsibility. Above the line, you take it or EMBRACE it. Below the line, you reject it or put an EMBARGO on it.
So what are the specific ways we often unconsciously EMBARGO Feedback?
There are many “below the line” responses, yet the most popular, when getting feedback about poor performance or behaviour are:
So what’s the above the line alternative?
Glad you asked.
It’s embracing the feedback so you grow, learn and prosper. It’s what one of my clients has as their corporate mantle: “Test and Learn”.
So what does it mean to Test and Learn?
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know my love of mnemonics to make the complex simple and the simple sensational.
The four keys for Test and Learn are…
Thank – the giver of the feedback
Examples – ask for examples or an explanation.
Solution – ask and seek a potential option for resolution
Take Action – explain what you will or will not do
TEST is self-explanatory, yet I’d just like to expand on the “Thanking” part. What does the “thankyou” do for the giver and you, the receiver of feedback?
Showing Appreciation for the Feedback
It takes courage to give people feedback, they never know how you’re going to take it.
So, by showing appreciation, you’re saying:
- Hey, this means a lot to me
- I can grow from this
- I’m not so stuck on holding onto my identity that I can’t let go of old habits or try new ones
- I really appreciate you giving this to me directly rather than to a third party (avoid triangulation like the plague)
And there’s enough evidence around which proves that those who show gratitude or journal about it report:
- Feeling fewer physical symptoms of illness
- Feeling better about their lives as a whole
- Being more optimistic about life overall
- More goal focus
- More positive states of alertness
- A greater sense of connection to others
(Professors Emmons & M. Cullough, 2003)
You’ll find just kicking off with appreciation and a thankyou for the feedback will create the proper energy and response to really hearing what’s said and the opportunity to really learn and grow.
Here we go, a quick summary for you.
- See feedback as a gift, it really is the breakfast of champions.
- Become conscious of whether you put an EMBARGO around feedback or if you EMBRACE it.
- Be aware of the above and below the line responses.
- Above the line means you’re taking full responsibility for at least considering the feedback.
- If even a small part of you goes into EMBARGO, start to become aware of the typical EMBARGO patterns you default to.
- Once you’re open to it, TEST it.
- Thanking the giver and showing appreciation is the first vital step to gaining more feedback and getting better.
- Then ask for Examples or further Explanation, seek out Solutions and agree exactly what actions you will Take.
It’s no accident that the best performers in theatre (a Director) in music (a Conductor) and in sport (a Coach) all have someone they look to, to give them feedback.
Who will that be for you?
And if you’re not getting it… ASK.
Until next time…
Find the Passion
Develop the Skills
Make the Numbers
Make a Difference
“APAC’s most respected transformational leadership performance coach”
Paul Mitchell (@Paul_S_Mitchell) is a speaker, author, transformational leadership coach and founder of the human enterprise. Through leadership coaching, leadership development programmes, keynotes and facilitation, Paul works with organisations to build cultures where everybody leads.