Happy Spring!

It’s that time of year when we’re hopeful the weather’s about to get better and we can start wearing singlets and shorts, and tan up the old epidermis. Hallelujah.

This is when I love a good clean out…both in my home, my car and my life. For me, that includes taking precious time to look at the things that aren’t serving me and the things that really are.

Plus, I love to seek out anything I need to adopt… This takes listening to feedback, which has taken me years to learn.

Early in my biz, I started asking for feedback in surveys. I’d hand them out at the end of a session and people would leave them for me to collect (no – we don’t do it like that anymore; we get feedback via online surveys). I remember running a Train the Trainer session many years ago where a guy was scathing about it amidst fantastic feedback from all the others.

His feedback REALLY got to me. I found myself mentally attacking him – he shouldn’t have been on the course, he was arrogant and he came with a closed mind… Then a good friend said, “Jac, look at aaaallllll the amazing feedback you’ve received, and you’re letting this one guy affect you so badly?” He was right. I’d lost perspective and allowed my thoughts to get way out of hand. I could only focus on my own knee-jerk reaction, which is our human proof of a lack of mind management, right?

Plus, I’d totally discredited that that one piece of feedback COULD have been valid.

Since then, I’ve learned some seriously great lessons on handling negative feedback (we hardly get any these days, but we do get to teach what we’ve learned).

So, within this is a couple of lessons…

Lesson number one: Respond don’t react

How do you react/respond when faced with negative feedback?

Most people either attack, defend, justify or blame…all knee-jerk reactions through a lack of mind management. Any of these sound familiar?

They tend to go like this:

Attack – “Well if you hadn’t…”
Defend – “It wasn’t my fault…”
Justify – “But I had to because…”
Blame – “No that was xx who did that…”

None of these are helpful – not for you or the other person. All they do is render you a jerk and potentially enflame the other person.

Own it. Yes, even if it really wasn’t your fault…own your bit.
Try falling on your sword – without apologising (yes I know, we’ll get to apologising in another newsletter).

Instead, try some of these:

  • “I get why you’re upset, that must have really frustrated you…I need to work on that”
  • ”I can see I really annoyed you, let’s sort out how to stop this from happening again eh?”
  • “That’s my fault, and I know that’s really put you out – I’ll fix it/ it won’t happen again”
  • Or in my survey situation, I could have said to myself, “Wow he really didn’t enjoy that, maybe I could have done things differently so he did.”

These are just a few examples of how to take ownership and lead through to a resolution. I have hundreds…

Lesson number two – COULD they be right?

I create surveys for leaders I coach to get feedback from their direct reports and peers/stakeholders. Setting people up to handle feedback is an important part of my coaching. Some take it well, others not so well.

But in every situation, the first thing I ask is – COULD this be right?

If you get negative feedback, ask yourself if there’s even a remote possibility they could be right. Through this practice, I’ve personally changed so much. I now look at myself first instead of going for the attack, and ask myself, “What can I take away from this and apply to improve?”

I like asking, “What could I have done differently or do next time?”

So, instead of discarding feedback, lean into it, and investigate for yourself.
Don’t react and be a jerk – respond.
Own it and seek a solution.