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Feedback: You Give It, But Can You Take It?

How you seek, process, and respond to feedback reveals much about your readiness to evolve as a leader.


Receiving feedback can be more daunting than giving it, particularly for those in leadership roles who feel pressure to project expertise and infallibility. It’s as if humans are wired to view feedback as a personal attack, threatening self-worth, or competence — a mindset often shaped by a culture that venerates flawless perfection and stigmatizes admitting mistakes. Past negative experiences with harsh or unfair feedback only reinforce this defensiveness. Yet feedback is crucial for personal and professional growth.

Photo: Mindy Vail | Courtesy Photo

Leaders who model a psychologically safe environment of open communication and trust solicit feedback from their employees. Providing channels for constructive encourages a culture of openness and growth, and foster trust among our teams. In this way, everyone feels encouraged to speak up and do their part in ensuring the organization’s success.

How you seek, process, and respond to feedback reveals much about your readiness to evolve. If you find yourself resisting feedback, take time to analyze your response. Your resistance may contribute to communication breakdowns, diminished trust among your team, and a stagnant leadership style. Overcoming feedback-resistant behavior requires perceptiveness and patience, focusing on specific examples and solutions in a supportive setting.

Whether feedback is eagerly embraced or reluctantly endured, navigating these interactions without defensiveness or discouragement requires intentional strategies. Adopt these approaches to effectively solicit and receive feedback from team members:

Acknowledge

Recognize that everyone, including you, has insecurities and imperfections. Embracing this human reality softens the impact of critical feedback by fostering self-compassion and reducing defensive reactions.

Engage

Understand that receiving feedback is challenging for the giver, too. Responding with empathy encourages constructive dialogue and mutual understanding. Strive to promote effective communication in your interactions.

Embrace

Approach feedback with openness and a growth mindset. Focus on opportunities for improvement rather than seeing feedback as criticism. This mindset boosts resilience and motivates you to learn and grow from information you receive.

Focus

Concentrate on the specific behaviors or actions mentioned in the feedback. By redirecting emotional responses towards cognitive processing, you will more accurately interpret and apply feedback for personal development.

Listen

Practice effective and active listening behaviors, such as maintaining eye contact and paraphrasing feedback to demonstrate respect and improve comprehension.

Clarify

Ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the intent and implications from the feedback accurately. Clarifying feedback reduces ambiguity and helps allow greater insights to apply toward your personal and professional goals.

Express

Appreciate the insights shared, even if the feedback is uncomfortable or challenging. Express your gratitude so that you reinforce a positive feedback culture, which will strengthen relationships and encourage continuous improvement.

Value

View feedback as essential for your personal growth and development. Use what resonates with you and reflect on feedback that doesn’t. Prioritize feedback-driven learning to enhance self-awareness, performance, and leadership advancement.

 

Understanding how you process feedback — whether you tend to focus on positives or fixate on negatives — reflects complex psychological and experiential factors. Developing self-awareness in this regard enhances your resilience and effectiveness in accepting feedback constructively.

Your ability to integrate feedback and reflection becomes pivotal in building upon your personal development and nurturing your continuous growth. Reflection prompts self-discovery and awareness. It provides clarity regarding your strengths and areas in which you could improve. Feedback serves as a reflective mirror in that it offers insights that may not have been immediately apparent, but that have the potential to deeply influence your personal growth and professional development.

While you may not always feel immediately receptive to feedback, with practice, you will be able to accept feedback with openness and humility.

By embracing feedback and leveraging it effectively, you foster a culture of growth and empathy, and encourage openness to receiving constructive criticism. Learning to graciously take and apply feedback enhances your own development and inspires positive change among teams and throughout your organization.

 

Mindy Vail has more than two decades of experience in leadership development, change management, education, and public speaking. Working with emerging leaders to veteran executives, her focus is cultivating a growth mindset and fostering resilience. Her new book, The Mindshift Effect: Where Change Management Is Redefined and Leadership Is Defined (April 16, 2024), provides a wellspring of inspiration for leading meaningful organizational change. Learn more at themindshifteffect.com.

 

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