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Gracefully Accepting Feedback a Key Employment Skill

Gracefully Accepting Feedback a Key Employment Skill

Getting defensive and spouting excuses will only make it worse.

By Jan B. King | Goal Setting Guide

With the long-term trend of protecting employees’ individual self esteem added to an overriding concern over expensive employee lawsuits, accountability is more a buzzword than a way of life at most companies.

This is a state of mind that has existed since the 1960s, so the average employee has never received real quality negative feedback — the kind of feedback that might help startle him or her out of career-dashing behavior and toward a more lucrative and successful work life.

Smart employers realize that people are their only sustainable competitive advantage. Companies hiring this year will be looking for people who are highly capable in their fields of expertise and who energize the other people with whom they work. This will hold true for traditional employees as well as independent contractors who will continue to make up a larger and larger part of the workforce.

Don’t wait for this new world of employment, prepare yourself now to get the feedback from others that will help you develop into the powerful person you can be. First, begin to change the way you feel about receiving feedback. Listen to the messages you get from those close to you: your spouse, children, close friends, other family members. Write them down and consider them as food for thought. Begin to analyze common pieces of feedback objectively and develop ideas about what you might do if you wanted to change their perceptions.

A key factor to remember about all feedback: it is one opinion coming from another individual’s unique perspective. It is up to you to consider it thoughtfully, compare it to other feedback you have received and do something positive with it. It is impossible for us to see ourselves as others see us, but very important that we don’t allow these blind spots to jeopardize wonderful opportunities.

Here’s a system for taking in feedback for maximum benefit:

 1. When receiving any feedback, listen without comment, looking directly at the person. When they have finished, don’t make any statements, but do ask questions if you want clarification. Don?t accept, don’t deny and don’t rationalize. Because we are rarely taught to give feedback well, you will often get feedback when the giver is angry about something in the moment. Quality feedback may be emotional when it touches a heartfelt issue, but it is not abusive. If a co-worker’s critique gets to this point you should ask to stop the discussion and have it at another time when cooler heads prevail.

 2. Recognize the courage it took to give you the feedback and consider it a sincere gift intended to help you grow. Thank the giver for feedback – make it short, but something you can say sincerely, such as “You’ve really given me something to think about, thanks.” It is hard to feel real appreciation when you hear negative messages about your behavior, so it is important to have simple words of gratitude prepared ahead of time.


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