I had a great coaching conversation with an Emerging Leader recently. She was talking about how her manager had said some pretty challenging things to her about her approach to handling some of the big Rocks going on in their business. We talked about how each of us wants to be seen, heard, understood, valued, and appreciated for who we are right now.
The tension often lies within the distance between who we are right now, (and why…) and who we need to be right now or shortly. How do we narrow that gap and release that tension?
Hmmm, yes, how indeed, can we do that? If you’ve ever wondered about that gap, and just how you might be able to go about narrowing it or closing it entirely, read on…
Seek To Understand:
It seems just about everybody has read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. So many great points in that book, but the one that is relevant to today’s conversation is “Seek To Understand.” It’s pretty easy and almost always our inclination to dismiss or discount feedback that we get from another person. We do this because the feedback is often “off” somehow because the person giving the feedback doesn’t fully understand our situation or the extenuating circumstances that we tell ourselves are the key to understanding the situation.
Don’t let yourself off the hook, listen, and seek to understand, to REALLY understand the feedback that you’re hearing. Do this without shading it with whatever you don’t like about the feedback you’ve received. It takes courage, but it is almost always worth the effort to really just accept the feedback as valuable and interpret it as openly and honestly as possible.
Don’t Let The Conversation Get Off Track:
Frequently we get sidetracked as we’re receiving feedback because we start thinking about the person giving the feedback to us much more than we’re focusing on the feedback they’re giving us. In essence, we start asking ourselves whether their feedback is valid because we believe that they may be disrespecting us, or may be lacking in credibility in some way.
Don’t over-complicate your conversation, and don’t let it become two conversations, where you and the other person are both talking and neither of you can listen and accept feedback, because your emotions and the complications of the conversation start to get in the way. Stay engaged. Keep it simple. Focus on the feedback, and its meaning, not on the delivery or the messenger.
Accept Feedback As An Opportunity:
Feedback is a golden opportunity, I might even go so far as to call it a gift. If you operate with a growth mindset, and you are admitting to yourself that you are complicated and imperfect, and on a journey to become more and better, you can embrace feedback as an opportunity to improve and move forward. Often there is tremendous coaching buried inside a mountain of feedback, and you have to mine for that hidden coaching, and dust it off once you’ve found it.
It’s too easy to discount or dismiss feedback that doesn’t match what we WANT to hear today, but if we are wise, and we listen and understand the feedback we’re given, we give ourselves a chance to gain something wonderful. I believe that people are generally trying to help when they offer criticism, and if we can see it in that light, we can bravely move forward to putting their advice to work for us as we grow.
During my career, some of my greatest accomplishments, and those of the teams I was leading, came from feedback that at first was difficult to hear. If we have the presence of mind to stay engaged and to take the correct mindset into gathering feedback, we can often hear the nuggets of gold that lie buried in what at first seems like a personal attack or some unfounded criticism.
We get to choose how we listen to feedback. We can seek it out, welcome it, and embrace it, or we can do the opposite and run and hide from it when it doesn’t sound like what we want to hear. I’ve come to value feedback, and sometimes while it may sting a bit when you receive it, the benefit of listening and understanding it can become some of the best medicine you’ll ever receive.
I’ve had to learn to get past myself. I’m an excellent gatekeeper who doesn’t like feedback that challenges my view of myself and my view of the world. Time has proven to me that this is one of my greatest weaknesses, and I’ve benefitted greatly from the occasional ability to open my mind and get past myself.
Michael Beach is the Founder of Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, a Tucson, Arizona-based firm with coaches who are thought leaders in the area of Executive Development, for C-Suite Executives, Directors, Vice Presidents, and Emerging Leaders. Michael is an award-winning Master Coach, and spends a lot of time thinking about, and writing about, topics of interest to business founders, C-Suite Executives, and Emerging Leaders. If you’d like more information about Michael and his band of amazing coaches, and what they might be able to do to turbo-charge your organization’s 2024 results, please reach out to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.