Getting Feedback About Received Feedback

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This week’s tip is about ensuring you get a second (and maybe third) opinion on particularly challenging feedback you’ve received. As I shared in this video, I learned this lesson the hard way and I do not wish the same for you.

Over the years, I’ve learned that many of us take a few of the following actions when we receive challenging feedback:

  1. We tend to keep it to ourselves.

We do this for various reasons, some of which result from the individualistic cultures many of us are from, while some are about our fear of being vulnerable by sharing it with others.

  1. We immediately try to adopt it.

Often, we leap right to the adoption phase before navigating our feelings about the feedback or genuinely understanding what it means. Folks I’ve worked with have told me their default is to adopt feedback, including feedback they aren’t sure they agree with, because they assume all feedback from a senior manager must be implemented. This may be true depending on where you work, but feedback processing should also come before feedback implementation.

Dear Receivers of Challenging Feedback: Consider this your invitation to slow down and realize you need not go it alone.

Throughout my career, I’ve realized how helpful it can be to bounce feedback I’ve received off of someone I greatly respect — ideally, someone who has a good sense of who I am, how I show up, and my working environment.

If you’re like me, you may find that, while wrestling with feedback is helpful in that it allows you to see it from many angles — also sharing it with a trusted colleague or mentor may get you to a point of clarity you weren’t able to get to on your own.

As I mentioned in this article about employee innovation at Forbes, my former innovation professor would often write this quote on the board:

“Enlightened trial and error of the good creative team always beats the lone genius.”

So, yes, even if you are a lone genius, when you share the feedback you’ve received with someone else, you’re giving yourself a chance to leverage the power of a “good creative team.”


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