What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Usually it is something like “uh-oh,” or “someone isn’t happy with my performance.” Most people associate the word, feedback, with being negative. Isn’t it ironic that when people want to tell you something good, they don’t preface it with, “I want to give you feedback,” they just say it! “Hey John, great job on that presentation!” But when you hear, “I want to give you some feedback,” you expect a conversation about where you are falling short on expectations.
How do we change the dynamic to make feedback more effective? The best feedback is what we ask for! Especially if we approach feedback as a way to expand our view of ourselves, being curious about how we can be better the next day, or week. Curious leaders are listening for what they can learn.
I love approaching people by starting my “ask” with the phrase, “What’s one thing…” followed with a specific question. “What’s one thing I can do to make our meetings better?” When you ask the question this way, you are believing they have something to tell you; and the simplicity of the ask allows for really great insight. Try these next questions, which go deeper: “What’s one thing I can do to make our working relationship even stronger?” or “What’s one thing I am doing that holds me back from progressing?”
Once you make the ask and get an answer, be sure to immediately say “thank you.” When someone gives you feedback, they are putting themselves at risk, not knowing how you will respond. By saying “thank you” right up front, you remove the risk.
Next, ask the person to help you visualize that differently. A great way to follow is: “From your perspective, how would that show up? What would that look like for you if I did that differently?”
Once you get “the picture view,” commit to that person that you will work on this and check back in with them to see if it is showing up differently for them.
Asking for feedback is a way to learn more about ourselves. And learning about ourselves through someone else’s eyes is powerful. Go ask a few people: “What’s one thing…” (you finish the sentence). Then let the insight flow.
About the Author
Carol Seymour: Global Executive, Speaker, Author and Founder of Signature Leaders
Carol Seymour is a sought-after business leader and seasoned global executive of large and mid-cap size companies and private-equity backed turnarounds. She founded Signature Leaders in 2013 which focuses on accelerating women into next level leadership and helping leaders create greater impact and influence. Signature Leaders was recognized last year as one of Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies”.
The Signature series of leadership offerings support the growth of women from Manager level up to and including C-suite executives. Today, more than 3000 global leaders across 6 continents have experienced a Signature program. Signature Leaders partners with more than 140 market-leading companies for their selective investments.
Carol is also a Founding Member of Paradigm for Parity and named one of the Top 40 Women Keynote Speakers for 2020 by RealLeaders Magazine.
Carol resides in Cashiers, NC. She has two married children, three granddaughters, and a grandson.