According to international leadership coach David Rock, we hear this question the same way we hear footsteps behind us in a dark alley; with foreboding and the desire to either run or fight. Yet well-considered feedback can help you target areas where taking action could have a real impact on your leadership effectiveness.
New discoveries in the field of neuroscience give us a better understanding of how the brain functions and its effect on behaviour. In his book, Your Brain at Work (p. 199), David Rock says:
- Status is a significant driver of behaviour at work and across life experiences;
- A sense of status going up, even in a small way, activates your reward circuits;
- A sense of status going down activates your threat circuitry.
7 steps to hear and process feedback positively:
1. Remain calm...and breathe (you will hear me say that often).
This sounds obvious but many people tense up, fearing the worst (note ‘dark alley’ reference above).
2. Let the feedback wash over you.
Listen to the feedback without judgement or defensiveness.
3. Take notes.
This will help you to keep calm and remember key points for later review.
4. Stay open and curious.
This is not the time to start challenging the feedback. Ask questions to get more information or examples to help you better understand what is being said.
5. Ask to reflect on the feedback and follow up later if you need to.
This will give you time to process your feelings and become more objective if you think further discussion is necessary.
6. Thank the person for making the effort to give the feedback.
It is just as difficult to give feedback as it is to receive it.
7. Take time to consider the feedback and plan the next steps.
Once you have an objective view of the feedback, you can then look at what it really means and how to take action. A coach can be helpful here.
Finally, remember this: feedback is about learning how you can become even better at doing your job. It is not about questioning your intrinsic value as a human being.
In the next post, I will talk about how to give feedback in a way that increases the chances of people taking it well and acting on it positively.