When Feedback is Hard to Hear: Part 1

When Feedback is Hard to Hear: Part 1

Yesterday I was meeting with one of my staff members. I was checking in on the progress of some of our goals when the conversation took a turn.

“I don’t think you trust me.”

My heart began to pound. The wheels started spinning. What was she even talking about? Courageously, and with some hesitation, the staff member expounded.

“Don’t get me wrong, you are the best leader I have worked with. I want you to hear that…”

She continued, “But I wonder sometimes if you really care what we think.”

Now, removed from the conversation by 23 hours, I sit stinging from the feedback but looking to grow from it, even if that means admitting my shortcomings and changing some behaviors. In the end, I want to lead well, to build trust, and positively impact children through other people.

As leaders who are committed to growing, we should crave feedback. The problem is, most of us shy away from it.
When feedback is negative, we tend to take things personally. We get defensive. We rationalize the critique away. When we do this, we may be missing out. If we are courageous and enough to respond differently, then honest feedback can become our greatest teacher and source of professional growth.

I am currently learning from Craig Groeschel on the topic of feedback:

Craig Groeschel: leadership podcast Giving and Receiving Feedback:

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1. Work to develop a culture of honest, timely and helpful feedback. We are the leaders of the organization. It should start with us.
2. A growth mindset helps us handle feedback that is difficult to hear. The feedback is simply giving us direction, for our next steps as leaders.
3. Remember to separate the “do” from the “who.” The best feedback is about what we do, not who we are.
4. When you find yourself getting most defensive, that’s when you need to listen most. This could be an opportunity for growth. “The more I want to push back; the more I need to listen.”
5. Ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding. Remember that general questions rarely lead to specific feedback. Specific questions like, “How can I do better next time?” are far more helpful.
6. Tweetable: “Don’t dread feedback, crave it.”

Stay tuned to hear my inner dialogue (and how I responded) after getting feedback that was hard to hear!


Image by Tihn Te Photos via Flickr

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