It is common to feel defensive when we get feedback about our performance or decisions. Once when I was listening to a presentation, I pointed out that it was sexist to include a picture of a company founder with a Victoria’s Secret model when talking about a company’s achievements.
The person giving the presentation got flustered and defensive. He responded with a comment about wanting to include interesting factoids. Hmmm. Maybe.
But rather than getting huffy, the presenter could have responded to my observation this way: “Thank you for pointing that out. I can see how it could be viewed as sexist.”
He didn’t have to agree with me; he could’ve just acknowledged that my view was valid and thanked me for speaking up. In that way, he would have encouraged others to share their views.
Feedback is a gift. Someone is broadening your perspective and giving you something to think about. It is important to say “thank you” even if you don’t agree with what the person is saying.
We want to encourage dialogue! We do that by creating a safe place to give and accept feedback. When we do that, we are creating psychological safety.
As leaders, we want to say “thank you!” in response to every bit of feedback that we receive. Remember that feedback is a gift!
People make themselves vulnerable when they give feedback. It’s important to validate their views and show gratitude for the time they took to share a different perspective.
Yes, some people are mean when they give feedback – sometimes aggressive. It doesn’t matter. It’s still a gift. Thanking them for sharing their perspective is a great way to diffuse a tense situation and start a dialogue. It also helps to create and maintain the positivity of the relationship.
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