Find the Truth in Feedback

Feedback is a word that often makes people cringe and can cause conflict in the workplace.  “Let me give you some feedback”… “are you open to hearing some feedback?” Sometimes people don’t even ask permission and just start giving you feedback.  We all have experienced this at some point in our lives and it happens both in our personal and professional lives. 

How do you receive feedback without taking things personally or getting defensive?  This is easier said than done.  Here are six things to consider that will help you be successful in hearing and accepting feedback.

1)      Assume positive intent

If you assume that the other person’s motivation is to help make you better/productive this will prevent you from becoming defensive. 

 2)      Q.T.I.P. (Quit Taking It Personally)

Do not get emotional; suspend emotions.

3)      Listen with open ears

Listen for the facts or behaviors that you can modify or change to get better.

 4)      Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase

Look for opportunities to ask questions and paraphrase so that you can gain a greater understanding of the other party’s perspective.

5)      Thank the person for their feedback

Sincerely thank the person for sharing their perspective.

6)      Find the truth in the feedback

Truly take the time to reflect on the other party’s perspective and find the truth.  You will not get better without seeing the reality in the other party’s story.

Additional food for thought:

  • You cannot control the other person’s choice of words, tone of voice or body language when giving feedback.
  • Most people are not good at giving feedback.
  • The other person may need feedback on how to give feedback, but this is not the time to give them that feedback.
  • It is okay, in most circumstances, to say that you need to re-schedule a time to meet to receive their feedback.  If you do get emotional ask to reschedule.

The most difficult feedback you may receive may be the most helpful to you in your career.  Take a deep breath, open your ears, and find the truth in the feedback!  Is there truth in the feedback you are not willing to hear and accept?

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Try On Their Shoes and Lace ‘Em Up!

More often than not, when we are in opposition with another individual we know “we are right” and “they are wrong.” Or at least that is what we lead ourselves to believe. We play the tapes over and over in our head and do not think twice where the other individual is coming from. We waste much valuable time and energy doing this. Stop the tapes!

A study on workplace conflict conducted by CPP, makers of the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008 (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days. This does not even include the cost of lost productivity due to employee grievances and missed work.

How do we stop the tapes and get back to work?

We need to “SLOW” down and take a moment to do some perspective taking! Perspective taking is one of seven constructive behaviors identified by Capobianco, Davis and Kraus, used to develop the Conflict Dynamic Profile Individual and 360° surveys.

You probably are saying to yourself, “I’ve already put myself in their shoes and they just don’t get it – dumbie!”… but how many of us have REALLY taken the time and energy to do perspective taking? Let’s get real with ourselves, not many!

How to try on their shoes and lace ‘em up!:

Stop the tapes, take out the emotion.

Listen with the intent to understand, ask clarifying questions.

Objectively, what are the other person’s needs?

Where is there common ground?

When you “SLOW”down the conversation, you can begin to authentically start perspective taking. Sometimes you may need to step away from the conversation in order to stop the tapes and take out the emotion.

If you are interested in learning more about your constructive and destructive behaviors, and triggers when confronting conflict, you and/or your team might benefit from taking the Conflict Dynamic Profile Individual or 360° surveys, or a conflict management workshop, contact me at james_davis@me.com.

Are you ready to try on their shoes, lace ‘em up and get back to work? Or are you going to continue to walk unnecessary miles in your shoes?

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Learn to Act, not Re-Act

I attended a 3-day facilitator workshop recently, The Facilitator Studio.  The workshop framework uses theatre and acting as a metaphor for facilitation and facilitating.  I had an “aha” moment during the workshop about acting and conflict. To be a great actor an individual must “know thy self” both internally and externally.  The actor must be aware of their energy, attitude, actions, and how the cast and audience perceive these attributes.  Additionally, an actor must be open to hear feedback from the director and peers in order to play their role most effectively.

This same philosophy is also true for learning how to manage conflict effectively.  One must “know thyself” both internally (emotions and thoughts) as well as externally (behaviors and actions).  Individuals must have the desire to learn to be more conflict competent.  They must be open to hear other’s point of view, and the courage and patience to practice.  Actors don’t just memorize a script then go on stage to perform.  They look at their authentic selves and internalize how their emotions, thoughts and behaviors can best portray the character.  The same holds true for professionals who want to be more effective in both their personal and professional lives.

Just as actors take acting classes and hire acting teachers, individuals that wish to be more effective communicators and leaders must participant in development workshops and possibly hire a coach.  It is essential that individuals learn to be more competent when dealing with conflict in the workplace.  We all have seen bad acting both on stage, the workplace and in our personal lives.  One must learn to act, not re-act.  It takes practice to be an authentic and effective actor just as it does to be an effective communicator and leader.

Do you want to win a Tony Award for you ability to act when faced with conflict?

Are you committed to learning how to better act versus re-act in order to be more conflict competent?

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