Negative feedback. Love it or hate it? It won’t surprise you to know, most people hate it. In today’s episode, we’re going to be covering four key things about negative feedback. Number One: why negative feedback is so hard. Two: discover how open you are to feedback. Three: four quick ways to improve your openness for feedback, and Four: how you can give feedback to your team.
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[00:00:00] Negative feedback. Love it or hate it. It won’t surprise you to know, most people hate it. In today’s episode, we’re going to be covering four key things about negative feedback. Number One: why negative feedback is so hard. Two: discover how open you are to feedback. Three: four quick ways to improve your openness for feedback. And Four: how you can give feedback to your team. So let’s [00:00:30] get into it.
[00:00:31] So why does feedback hurt so much?
[00:00:34] Firstly, it has a bit to do with how our brains are wired. We are wired to hear negative things, three to five times louder than positive things. It’s called Negativity Bias.
[00:00:45] Think about it this way. If you put your hand on a hot stove, you need that message of pain to be received by your brain immediately for immediate action. Negative things need action straight away for our survival. Just like the [00:01:00] adrenaline rush of a near car accident or thinking way back to our caveman cavewoman days of the saber tooth tiger. You needed to know to run.
[00:01:10] When negative emotions happen, our body responds straight away. It’s a fight or flight. We do this to survive. But it also means we hit negative things so much louder than positive because that’s part of survival.
[00:01:23] There’s some great theory and Positive Psychology research by Barbara Fredrickson. It’s called the Broaden and Build [00:01:30] Theory. And this is all about how positive emotions are needed for longer-term happiness.
[00:01:34] So, how does this relate to negative feedback? Apart from the fact that we hear negative feedback, three to five times louder than positive feedback. It also feeds into an internal narrative that a lot of us have. And often fits into one of these three categories. It’s the feeling of not good enough, the feeling of unworthy, or, the feeling of being an imposter. When we get negative feedback, it’s like fuel [00:02:00] to those internal securities. “Oh, I knew I’d never get it” or “I will never be good enough” or “it’s only a matter of time until I’m found out I’m just going to fly under the radar”.
[00:02:12] Sometimes earlier on in our career, we think it’s a hierarchy thing. We think it’s about experience that once we have more experience that we won’t feel so insecure or we won’t feel that we have imposter syndrome. As someone that works with executive level CEOs of small and large businesses, I can [00:02:30] tell you it has nothing to do with our age experience or status in a company.
[00:02:35] These feelings of “not good enough” or “unworthy” or “imposter syndrome” is something that can follow us no matter where we are. So noticing when they come up and if they’re helpful or harmful, and if they’re true or not, is really important.
[00:02:52] I used to hate getting negative feedback, because it would reinforce the feeling that I hadn’t done a good enough job. Or the feeling that I wasn’t good [00:03:00] enough. Yep, of those three, not good enough. Unworthy or imposter. The voice of mine is the “not good enough”. I can have a perfectionistic streak. And this negative feedback can feed into that. I can also be pretty tough on myself. I like to think that I am recovering in this area. But it is something that is definitely still there. Early on in my career, I was a Personal Assistant. And something I was really great at was asking, how could I help with what needed doing.
[00:03:28] But I also had a [00:03:30] bad trait and it had to do with feedback. Because at the end of the day, I would try and leave without them seeing me. And it was because I didn’t want to ask how my work was in case I’d get bad feedback. Now as a leader, one of the traits I seek the most now is about attitude and proactivity. Which at that point I did have, but something that I seek now that I didn’t have when I was younger, was about asking and growing from feedback. And I’m not sure if I would have hired the younger version of myself. Or if I [00:04:00] did, it would definitely have been a conversation that I would have, to make sure that the openness for feedback was there and it wasn’t taken as a negative.
[00:04:08] So in this role, what did I do?
[00:04:10] I used to avoid asking for feedback. So there was no chance it could be negative feedback and it couldn’t fit into the thought of not being “good enough”. Now, this seems like a genius idea in the short term. But while my goal was to avoid negative feedback, I was blocking positive feedback too. It meant that I wasn’t growing or learning.
[00:04:29] [00:04:30] Plus who was to work in a team with someone who avoids feedback? No one.
[00:04:34] So I had to improve my “coachability”. Coachability is a mentality or attitude that someone has towards receiving feedback. That openness to be corrected and the willingness to use it to improve. If you think of it like sport. If you’re on a netball team and you’re not open to be coached or getting feedback.
[00:04:51] Do you won’t be in that team very long.
[00:04:54] Number Two for this episode was about discovering how open you are to feedback. How [00:05:00] coachable are you? See how many of these questions you can answer yes to.
[00:05:04] One: I regularly ask for feedback on my work, my leadership, or my relationship.
[00:05:10] That could be like, ” How is my work in this area?” Or “how could I be a better leader for you?”
[00:05:16] Two: I’m interested to learn new things.
[00:05:20] Are you curious when there’s something new or does it just feel like one extra thing that you want to know nothing about.
[00:05:26] Three: I can self-reflect on what’s working well and [00:05:30] areas for development.
[00:05:31] And this is really about doing it without judgment, not beating yourself up for not being good enough, which I can tell you, I was quite a pro at.
[00:05:40] Question Four: I can consider taking on feedback, even if I don’t like it. Or I don’t like the person who delivered it.
[00:05:48] One of the really key traits for negative feedback is being able to separate the person giving the feedback from the actual feedback.
[00:05:55] Sometimes we really don’t like or respect the person giving the feedback. So therefore [00:06:00] we disregard the feedback, as opposed to separating the person and the feedback. If you think about that feedback was given by someone when you trusted, would it be good feedback?
[00:06:11] It doesn’t automatically mean you should accept it, but it does make you consider, is the factor the person or the feedback.
[00:06:18] And the fifth point. I do not consider feedback as a personal attack. One way to think about feedback is if someone gives you some feedback, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically [00:06:30] right or accurate, or you need to take it on board. When you’re given feedback, you get to choose, is it useful? Do you want to use it? And maybe it’s for now, or maybe it’s something you want to come back to in a week, a month or next year.
[00:06:45] So there were the five questions on how coachable are you about regularly asking feedback, interest in learning new things, self reflect on what’s working well and areas for development, can you consider taking on feedback even if you didn’t like it, or like the person and you don’t consider feedback a personal [00:07:00] attack?
[00:07:00] How did you go?
[00:07:02] Now, if you listened to those questions and you thought, Ooh, maybe not so good. Today is a great day because it’s another day that you can learn to do something a little bit different. Which is one of the reasons I’m sure you listen to this podcast because it’s all about 1% tips that you can action straight away.
[00:07:22] So as promised here’s four quick ways you can improve for yourself.
[00:07:27] Firstly ask for feedback. [00:07:30] And that might sound like “how did they go on that proposal? If there was one thing that I could have done better, what would that be?” Then listen to the response. Really listen. It’s also our job to make the other person feel comfortable to give us feedback.
[00:07:44] The second quick way you can improve for yourself about feedback is the term “thanks for the feedback”. If someone takes some time to give you feedback, that’s also a gift or whether we like it or not. So thanking them for the feedback is a sign that you appreciate that [00:08:00] they took the time to give you feedback, and you’re interested in more in the future. The third, quick way you can improve is have a growth mindset. Now I’ve spoken before about the growth mindset and the fixed mindset growth mindset is all about “I can learn to become better. I can learn to become a better leader”. Versus the fixed mindset is “leaders are born. That’s why there’s no point learning these new skills because I can’t actually learn it”.
[00:08:26] The fourth, quick way you can improve is have grace. [00:08:30] Sometimes feedback and feel like an attack. Take on the feedback with grace and consider it a learning opportunity, not an attack on your self worth or ego. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but I promise with a little bit of practice you may realize it is something that is easier than you think. And over time it’s like a muscle. The more you get used to it, the more comfortable you are and the easier it is.
[00:08:56] Some examples of the ways that I ask for feedback is [00:09:00] at the end of my one-on-one coaching sessions. I often ask “what was most meaningful or useful for you in this session?” It’s a great way to help me get feedback on what’s working well for them. But I also often ask “”what’s one thing I could have done it to make this session even better for you”.
[00:09:17] It means that even if the session was great, that I’m interested in what’s that 1% to make it even better. It makes people feel safe to give that bit of feedback. Another way I asked for feedback. Is if I [00:09:30] go for an audition, I ask for feedback afterwards.
[00:09:32] And during a show, if I’m not getting enough feedback from the Director while I’m doing a musical. I will ask specifically for the sort of feedback I’m looking for, and I’ll ask them prior to doing a scene, so they know what to look for.
[00:09:46] So finally in today’s episode, how to give feedback to your team. Here’s a few quick tips. The first one: ask permission. And that might sound like “I’ve got a few notes on this proposal. Can we [00:10:00] go through it together?” Or “creating role briefs for advertising is going to be a key part of your role going forward. Let’s spend some time to get the structure of this ride. Are you open to that?”
[00:10:10] now it might seem strange as a leader, ask them for permission to give feedback. But it’s actually about the other person opening themselves up to hearing what you have to say.
[00:10:19] If you think you’re going to get bad news or feedback, you might feel that you close yourself off to it. Other people are the same as well. So by asking for permission and them saying, yes. You’re more [00:10:30] likely to get them, to have their ears open to what you have to say.
[00:10:33] The other way to give feedback to your team is set up the relationship first. If you have a basis of a good relationship, giving feedback is easier. It is really hard to give feedback and build a relationship at the same time.
[00:10:46] And the third is asking how they would like to get feedback. For example. “Do you want feedback on your work as we go or at the end?” You’re setting the expectation that there is going to be feedback as part of it, but giving them control of [00:11:00] how they want to receive it.
[00:11:02] It’s a bit like giving a child at two options of what they can wear. So the argument is not that they’re going to put something on, but you’re focusing the attention on which of the two things they’re going to wear. And it’s a little bit the same of giving feedback.
[00:11:15] They’re going to get feedback, but you give them the choice of when they would like to receive it.
[00:11:20] Another example of this was recently I was a musical director for a show. In the last rehearsal before opening night. Is normally a point where everyone is very polished and [00:11:30] what they’re doing. And I asked the cast, what sort of feedback they would like. Because each of them, depending on their personality and their style would have a preference at that point.
[00:11:39] Some people the night before opening night, are just wanting reinforcing and positive feedback that they’re on the right track so they’re in the right mindset to hit opening night. Others really want that nitpicky 99th percentile jof feedback, and they want it detailed. Other people are just looking for the things that are really obvious [00:12:00] that are going to stand out and they want feedback on that.
[00:12:03] By asking them how they would like their feedback. They felt in control prior to opening night. And if I had given somebody feedback when they really just wanted confirmation that they were on the right track, it could have really derailed that opening night. So this is all about knowing your team and knowing their personalities.
[00:12:20] So now you’ve learned a little bit about feedback, discovered why negative feedback is hard and four ways you can improve for yourself and how to give feedback to your team. There’s a [00:12:30] few other ways I can help you as well. For teams, I run a workshop on giving and receiving feedback where you actually get to role play these conversations and build the relationship.
[00:12:38] There’s also a wonderful book called Giving and Receiving Feedback that I’ll put in the show notes.
[00:12:44] Sessions like this, I do in my one-on-one coaching, helping leaders to better give feedback and receive feedback in their team. And we role play exactly what can happen with your team in a nice safe environment. So a lot of people don’t get taught these leadership skills and it’s a wonderful place [00:13:00] to learn it when you are having one-on-one coaching.
[00:13:03] And finally, I have a program “Solo to CEO” for small to medium business owners. And one of the six Modules is all about Difficult Conversations, which includes templates on how to have these conversations and giving and receiving negative feedback, so you don’t feel sick for the few days prior to having a tough conversation.
[00:13:21] I look forward to hearing how you went with your conversations on giving and receiving negative feedback. And hopefully I might’ve changed your mind [00:13:30] on negative feedback, that doesn’t feed into this idea of not good enough unworthy or imposter syndrome.
[00:13:38] I’ll catch you next week.
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