how to RECEIVE feedback 4of4

A culture of feedback is one that nurtures a healthy level of trust, self-awareness and continuous growth. Groups and teams where feedback is asked for and given with clarity and in grace will thrive together while supporting individual flourishing. The final piece of the picture addresses the posture of those receiving feedback.

Don’t be defensive!

The first (and potentially most important) consideration when receiving feedback is to regulate our natural response to defend ourselves. In our words, our posture or our facial expressions (especially for those who, like me, have a particularly ‘loud’ face!) we can communicate a reactivity or negative response that will derail the effectiveness of the process and potentially cause that person to hesitate to give feedback in the future.

Look for what is helpful (even if it’s delivered badly).

Our tendency is to hone in on the points of feedback that are incorrect or communicated poorly. When a reviewer uses exaggeration (such as always or everyone), when they are aggressive or dismissive in their language and tone, or when they make comments that you know to be completely untrue we have a choice in how we respond. The most productive option will always be to find what is true and helpful in what they’ve said and allow that to teach us. There will always be fault to find in the delivery but your choice to overlook that for the purposes of the growth potentially contained in what is being shared will firstly, nurture that healthy feedback culture and secondly, lay a stronger foundation for addressing any changes you might suggest to their mode or method at a later time.

Clarify and identify.

Ask questions to be sure you’ve understood what the reviewer is meaning to convey. “When you say that the presentation was hard to follow are you referring to the structure of the notes, the order of the content or another aspect?” Don’t walk away with disclarity. It essentially means the feedback has been wasted. You don’t know what you can do differently in future (to course-correct or continue to improve) and the reviewer’s time has been without purpose.

Be sure to quickly identify points of the review that you can agree with or acknowledge fault in. Apologise for anything that was missed or that had implications for others. (Eg, “I’m sorry I forgot to mention …” “I’m sorry my disorganisation impacted other things.”)

Say ‘thank you’!

Even if the feedback has been difficult to receive, thank your reviewer for giving it. Thank them for the risk they’ve taken to share, for the time they’ve taken to articulate their perspective and for the part they’re playing in your ongoing development. Expressing appreciation will keep them on the journey with you.

Circle back.

You don’t have to implement every bit of feedback you receive. Some of it can be readily discarded; some will need to be verified and validated by others. When you do take some feedback on board be sure to let the reviewer know that you are  (eg “After your comments I’ve started doing that a different way.) and what the implications were (eg “My team have noticed a real difference”).

This can be the most effective culture shaping step in the process. When individuals feel the benefit for themselves and when teams and organisations notice the impact collectively, there will be a natural drive to repeat the process. The culture of feedback becomes self-perpetuating once people recognise that, without it, they will be missing opportunities for greatest productivity, excellence, development and impact.

READ THE REST OF THE SERIES :

let me give you some feedback
how to ask for feedback 2of4
how to GIVE feedback 3of4

 

 

how to GIVE feedback 3of4

When looking to create a culture that is defined and informed by healthy review and encouragement it starts with asking for feedback. Leaders go first in demonstrating a posture of humility and a desire for continuous growth. What must we consider when it comes to giving feedback?

Giving helpful feedback requires THOUGHT and PRACTICE

Having an opinion is easy – communicating it in ways that are beneficial to the receiver is not. At least, not without some intentional consideration of language, purpose and context. It is completely unhelpful (and potentially destructive) to give feedback that is unprocessed.

Train your BRAIN!

There is no such thing as ‘constructive criticism’!

Criticism is the expressing of disapproval in response to someone’s faults or mistakes. It’s about de-construction not construction! Constructive critique? Yes! But not criticism. There’s no place for criticism in a healthy culture of feedback.

We need to intentionally train our brains to look and listen for opportunities to affirm, encourage and build up. When watching others in action, attending events, sitting in meetings, hanging out with family and friends … wherever!! …the question on our minds should be, “what can I appreciate about what is happening here?”

Leaders tend to look more analytically at things – which is part of what enables them to lead change and increasingly better outcomes. Left unchecked, this can lead to being highly critical, negative and fault-finding.

Encouragement is by far the greater tool for emboldening people for their best contributions and positioning them for maximum growth and development.

Stop at ENCOURAGEMENT.

People are often quite aware of their weaknesses, they trip over them every day.

We need to recognise that most people are their own worst critics. The internal dialogue of many is a replay of all that has gone wrong, could go wrong and is going wrong. The last thing they need is to have those thoughts verbalised externally and in the voice of others.

Personally, encouragement around what I can do and what is working has made the greatest contribution to my growth and improvement. I see this repeatedly in those I mentor, lead or train. Encouragement provides a core foundation for future development, a strong base from which to launch into addressing those areas of weakness or skill deficiency. When a person is confident in your confidence in them they are best positioned to tackle difficult stretch and growth.

A “PRAISE SANDWICH” needs more bread.

The old ‘praise sandwich’ – one piece of criticism sandwiched between two positive comments – is a good start, but research tells us that this ratio is inadequate. Most studies indicate that the ratio is more like 6:1 of positive words or experiences to counteract the negative for a person to reflect on an encounter, relationship or overall experience as ‘positive’.

Always ASSUME the BEST.

When giving feedback after failure or that requires a degree of rebuke, always assume the best. In trust-filled environments we must start with the belief that others intend for positive outcomes rather than assuming intentional failure or shortfall.

“I know you were hoping the game would include everyone but there were too many left on the sidelines.” as opposed to “Why wouldn’t you play a game that included everyone?”

Not only will it nett a more positive response, it’s a reflection of your own heart, attitude, focus and discipline to have gone to the best case scenario rather than assuming the worst.

Assuming the best positions us alongside someone in their fight for greater personal character and outcomes rather than in opposition to them.

Distrust is cancerous to healthy culture and relationships. Choose trust.

Give an ACTIONABLE take-away.

Ensure that your feedback conversation lands in a way that the receiver can walk away with some practical next steps. What can they do differently? How can they address the shortfall? What might they think about for next time? Who could they enlist to help them toward a better outcome?

Some situations are so specific and unique that they are unlikely to be repeated but there are always principles within them that can be adopted and transferred. Constructive feedback will help tease those out and highlight them so that a person feels they’ve added extra tools to their belt.

STEWARD the moment with care.

Remember, when your feedback is invited or required you are given incredible power. Another person is submitting themselves to your opinions and your words – this is incredibly sacred ground and is a position of high vulnerability for them.

Regardless of the intensity of the situation, don’t forget you’re dealing with a person.

In a healthy environment you might establish capacity for more robust levels of feedback and review but this is developed gradually and gently.

In the rush of a moment or the busyness of personal or organisational life, we can be careless with our feedback. We can flippantly throw out observations that carry great personal impact to others. Or, we can neglect to take the time to speak encouragement. Often in meetings where time is short, we focus on what needs to be fixed as it seems most pressing – but sometimes, the greater investment might be to celebrate what ought to be affirmed so that it will be repeated.

Read more in the FEEDBACK series – Let me give you some feedback, Asking for Feedback … stay tuned for Receiving Feedback.

 

 

 

this year I will 


So, it’s the time for New Year’s Resolutions. Do you make them?

Even though I’m not much of a planner or long term goal setter, I am an eternal optimist and so have regularly looked at the start of the new year as a chance to make a fresh start, set a new plan or make some kind of change. 

Of course, over the years, there’s been the obligatory weight loss and fitness goals; the re-setting of spiritual disciplines like prayer; Bible reading and devotions; home renos and maintenance; and a random collections of hobbies attempted, romances hoped for and travel destinations dreamed of. But in more recent years I’ve shifted to reflecting on the past year and looking to the next one through the lens of a series of questions. 

Here’s my list …

  

  • How’s my walk with God?

Each of our reflections on this would be unique to our personal relationship with God. For me, it looks like finding joy in Him and a growing awareness of His presence and guiding. Those things are evidenced in my sense of contentment and rest, and my fulfilment in participation in His kingdom work. And they are fueled by regular time in His Word, (I’ve just marked 7 years of not missing a day of Bible reading) worship and mission, hanging out with others who are pursuing Him and hearing testimony of Him at work. 

  • Have I finished my project?

Each year I take on a project. A few years back it was a new kitchen. After that it was a garden makeover. Last year it ended up being writing a book. This year it was fixing the now-famous cracks in my ceiling and walls. I nailed that one…with 7 days to spare!!! (You can still smell the smell of fresh paint in here!)

  • Am I fit and healthy?

That’s what it has to be about right? And it becomes a more helpful general assessment rather than the potentially unrealistic goals of specific measurements. That being said, the answer this year is “no”! But there’s hope for a back injury to be rectified and to get back on track as we start the new year. Clearly some disciplines need to be put in place to make the goal of health and fitness achievable. 

  • Am I exploring new ministry opportunities?

I want to keep growing all the time. I want to be maximising the giftings God has given me by increasing my skill and capacity to be ready to respond to all He asks me to do. This year I became a published author (eek) which opened some fun ministry doors for me. I stepped into a leadership role with a national Christian leadership development organisation. I did a radio interview! I was invited to minister interstate and across the state. I preached many times to thousands of people – youth, church communities, parents and leaders. Our church built a new facility which stretched us as a team into new thinking, planning and leadership. It’s been a full year. 

  • Am I open to “relationship”?

Putting “get married” on my to-do list doesn’t really align with my higher value of just wanting what God wants more than anything my heart would desire. This question prompts me to be sure I’m being the best me, maximising my now-season, and being open to opportunities to meet new people and explore relationship should it present itself. The rest is up to Him! 

  • How are my relationships with family & friends?

I want to be a good daughter, sister, Aunty and friend. I do this with varying degrees of success. Sometimes I manage to be much more available than others. I am determined to be fully present when I am there. I want more than anything for my family and friends to have me on their list of people of whose love they are assured. That will mean different things for different family and friends. Definitely a work in progress. 

  • Am I living life to the full?

Sometimes days are hard – sometimes those days string together and there are hard seasons. When I can, with what I have, I want to live the best version of my life. I want to manage my finances to be a faithful tither and a generous giver. Travel when I can, eat good food, see good theatre and laugh …as much as I can …with as many people as I can. I don’t want to ever live on hold. I want to see new places and try new things. I don’t want the monotonous demands of “normal life” (the bins go out, the bills get paid, the clothes get washed etc) to spill out and make any other aspect of my life boring or ordinary. This year I’m taking tap dancing lessons!!!! 

So “this year I will” look at these questions again and see what God has in store for each of these facets of my life. Buoyed by the belief that the best is still to come and in the highs and the lows God will be leading, providing and sustaining. 

Bring on 2016!!!

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #6 Grow in Persistence

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:18)

When using this text as a guide for how to do relationships well, it is too easy to use those first four words as our escape clause … “if it is possible”.

There are many broken or unhealthy relationships that we are very quick to write off as impossible. Things have gone sour, friendships have become untenable, families have become dysfunctional because “it’s just not possible” to make them work. Sound familiar? Continue reading