Recently, my husband returned from a golf outing. He told me that his buddy had made the same comments about his driving that I have been making for years, which he had chosen to ignore. He finished with, “Maybe there is some truth to what you have been telling me.”
Finally! He was hearing me.
We all need feedback to grow and improve. Do you hear the comments people give you or simply disregard them? Here are two things to consider when someone gives you feedback:
1. Who is giving you the feedback?
People can be very quick to remark on our behavior. If the person making the comment is an expert, the feedback is really a gift. You should seriously consider what was said. Coaching has exploded in the workplace over the last couple of years since many professionals want, or have been told, to get feedback from knowledgeable sources. (In my recent article in the Harvard Business Review, I discuss executives receiving feedback.)
If the person is not an expert, you have various options. You can listen and then chalk it up to one person’s opinion. You can probe, and ask the person to clarify the comment by saying, “What exactly do you mean by _____?" Sometimes you gain good information, and sometimes the person has nothing worthwhile to add.
2. Is there a pattern of similar comments?
When you receive a number of similar comments from different people, chances are there is some truth to what is being said. You should consider whether it would be to your benefit to make some changes based upon that feedback.
One woman was often asked if she was upset as she looked stern. She said she wasn’t and didn’t believe all the comments about her espression--until she saw her wedding video. She said it was the happiest day of her life and she looked miserable. She finally realized that the numerous comments people made were spot on.