Recently, I received a note from a vendor after giving him some critical feedback. He wrote:
“I take a lot of pride in my work and in my business, and even though it is difficult to hear negative comments upon completion of a job, I respect and appreciate your honesty. Your feedback will go a long way in helping me grow my business.”
What a great response to my comments. Would you respond in a similar manner if you heard criticism about your work?
It is easy to brush feedback aside, get defensive, and/or make excuses. Yet, you can gain valuable insights from the comments of others. As a speaker, I receive feedback from seminar participants all the time. I love hearing the many wonderful comments and truly appreciate the suggestions for improvement – many of which have been implemented in my classes.
The next time you receive feedback, review your response against this list. Did you…
1. Listen to the person. Let the individual complete his/her thoughts. Don't interrupt or argue.
2. Ask yourself: Who is giving you the feedback? If the feedback is from your customer, you need to consider the suggestions and implement them, if appropriate. If the feedback is from your boss, generally it’s advisable to make the suggested changes.
3. Learn as much as you can. Ask for the details about the situation, if they were not given. If you say, “Tell me more,” it will let the person know you are open to feedback, and you will often gain more information as a result.
4. Engage in the discussion. Paraphrase what you have heard. Saying something like, “You’re suggesting that…,” will make sure you have grasped the person’s points. You may also want to explain, without making an excuse. For example, people will occasionally correct what they believe is an error in something I have written. If I am sure that I am correct, I will politely respond that their comments reflect only one way of writing. Rules may differ depending upon the style manual used, and we are most likely using different manuals.
5. Acknowledge/fix the problem. Sometimes you acknowledge the mistake by saying, “You’re right. It won’t happen again.” This usually ends the discussion. In other situations, you may want to let the person know what you will be doing differently in the future. This can be done on the spot or at a later time.
6. Thank the person. Receiving feedback is an opportunity to improve your skills or your business, and to maintain your relationship with the person. Whether your critic’s comments are positive or negative, make sure you say “Thank you” at the end of the conversation. Often, you can follow up with a note explaining the benefit of your conversation.
Additional information on feedback can be found in my book, The Power of Positive Confrontation.
For information on seminars or coaching, please contact Joyce Hoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856.751.6141.