Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Here’s THE secret to becoming great at feedback: Get comfortable with it.
When feedback comes so naturally that it’s simply the way you work, you get this….
Not only are you fearless about getting continuous, honest feedback, but you crave it!
When someone you’re working with is silent or vaguely approving, you wonder why they’re not telling you what they really think. You prefer a bit of criticism to no reaction at all, because you have a burning desire to improve and you seek great ideas for how to do that.
You frequently initiate 2-way feedback conversations that are focused on future success
When you’re comfortable with it, yes. But the challenge here is that feedback usually stirs up fear responses in the emotional part of your brain. Brain research has proven it it over and over again in brain imaging studies of people giving feedback and receiving feedback. However, after you’re used to it as an “everyday” thing–a no-big-deal thing that you, your boss, your co-workers, and everyone else include as part of their work routines, the fear goes away.
Not only does the fear go away, but you start experiencing it as comfort and engagement!
This is the weird thing…. A work environment where people are encouraged to speak their minds and where you know what your boss is thinking is a plus. Even where there are some tough hurdles suggested in the feedback, employees, according to a slew of 2015 and 2016 workplace studies, prefer a feedback-rich environment to no feedback or all positive feedback.
Employees prefer some critical feedback to all positive feedback
Why? Because they know that all-positive feedback all the time is B.S. They feel manipulated if no one’s developing them and helping them improve their impact. Sure, everyone wants positive feedback—maybe up to 2 or 3 times as much positive as corrective, feedback, but always remember to reach for improvement. The very best, go-getter employees get impatient with all positives and will actually leave a company where they’re not challenged and developed.
How you can get comfy with feedback
Incorporate 5 minutes of feedback time at the end of every meeting. And I mean every meeting, even a routine project chat with a peer.
Prime the pump by suggesting feedback about yourself. There’s bound to be something you notice about how you can get better at your shared work. Then others will offer feedback about their work as well, and you’re off to useful feedback exchange!
Bring up items that apply to the overall process and/or more than one person in the group. This is a good way to get people started with feedback and it’s positive power.
Bring up critical items in one-one-one discussions that stay focused on future success. Paint a picture of the other person excelling as they implement the changes.
Praise positive progress as soon as you see it. Make it meaningful, however, and not like a cheesy parent figure saying “Good job” all day. Explain specific behaviors you saw.
Do all of this very, very often. Like everyday. In some way, incorporate 2-way feedback into almost every discussion.
When you personally get relaxed with feedback, others will pick up on it, and join in on the comfort!