In last week’s post, Get Comfortable with Feedback, we discussed 3 rules for receiving feedback about your performance. Those rules were:

1.  Listen calmly to what is being said.
2.  Thank them for bringing the information to your attention.
3.  Schedule a time to meet again.

Feedback is an opportunity to understand the impact that you have on others and to decide if it is the impact that you want to have. So, once you have listened calmly, thanked them for bringing the information to your attention, and scheduled a time to meet again, you need to engage in 3 additional actions:

a.  Work with what you’ve heard.
b.  Prepare for the next meeting.
c.  Meet again . . . (which includes listening calmly, thanking them for their time and input, and deciding if the conversation needs to continue.)

How you follow-up matters if you are going to get the most from the feedback and have the greatest opportunity to take action and become more effective in the future.

This week we will look at the first of the 3 actions:

A.  Work with what you’ve heard:

As you reflect on the feedback given to you, write down the key points that you heard and any examples you were given to help you understand the feedback. Then, we would like you to sit down and read the feedback aloud. If there are examples, read those aloud too so that you have “heard” all the feedback in your own voice. The goal here is to decrease your reactivity and hear the information for what it is – a snapshot of your performance as viewed through another’s eyes. It’s not THE truth about who you are, rather; it is their experience of your actions and/or their experience of the effect of your actions on others.

Now, for each of the key points you heard, consider the following questions:

1. Whether or not it was my intention, can I imagine that I might have had this impact?

2. Can I understand how others might have concerns about the behavior or impact described?

If you can understand your impact, whatever your intention, you can determine how you might have a different impact in the future by making different behavioral choices.

For example, if you got some feedback that said that you are “difficult to work with” then answering the questions above you might write something like: I remember being frustrated and overworked, which others could interpret as hard to work with; or if the feedback was “you missed project deadlines” you might write: Yes, but so did everyone else! But… I may have tried to diminish that fact by slamming someone else instead of acknowledging directly my mistake.

Remember, the objective is to see how someone might have had this experience of you so that you can learn from it. Do what you can to see where you contributed to the feedback you were given. By putting yourself in another’s shoes and seeing yourself through their eyes, you get the opportunity to see whether your actions are in line with your intentions once they are experienced by others.

Take a few moments today to consider whether your actions are congruent with your intentions and if not take a few moments to consider how you might bring them closer together.

Next week, we’ll discuss the next action required to Integrate Feedback with Skill and Grace.