How well do you respond to criticism?
Being able to receive feedback and do something with it shows strength and confidence. While opening our heart and mind to feedback is not natural, it is a coveted skill that each leader needs to succeed.
Follow this 3-step process to receiving feedback that will help you project an image of collaboration and cooperation.
Step One: Open yourself to receive the message. Do this both physically and mentally.
Physically open your arms and your chest. When we close our arms around our chest, we tell ourselves and the world, “I don’t want to HEAR it!” When we open our stance and our arms, we psychologically are preparing ourselves to hear and receive the message.
Mentally prepare your mind to listen by saying to yourself, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” Take a curious approach to the feedback given. It is possible you will learn something new and valuable.
Step Two: Clarify the Message. Use your paraphrasing skills by stating, “So what I hear you saying is …”
Step Three: Ask a solution-focused question. Follow your paraphrase by asking a solution-focused question. “If I can …, then you will …” or “I I can …, will you then be ready to …?”
Let’s visit Jack and Jill again to demonstrate the process in action.
When we last left the story of Jack and Jill, Jack had prepared himself to talk with Jill about her lack of execution on Project A supporting the BE AWESOME Charity. (See 3 Easy Steps to Assertive Communication.)
We will now follow Jill as she receives Jack’s feedback. She will follow our three steps to receiving criticism. This 3-step tool empowers leaders to gain valuable information from criticism and demonstrate strength as a leader.
Jack: “At the June 2nd BE AWESOME Charity Executive Board meeting, you volunteered to lead project A with Actions X, Y, and Z to be completed by July 30th. Actions X, Y, and Z have not been completed. Today is August 15.
I feel concerned about the completion of the project and I feel disappointed that the deadlines for actions X, Y, and Z have not been met because if Project A is not completed by August 30th, the benefactors will not be able to receive our donation.
Are there unexpected roadblocks that we can help you overcome?”
Step One: Open yourself to receive the message
While Jill felt embarrassed and immediately defensive, she chose to take a deep breath, open her arms and stance, and mentally prepared herself to be open to Jack’s discussion.
Step Two: Clarify the Message.
Jill: “Jack. Thank you for speaking to me directly about this. I hear that you are concerned about the missed deadlines on Project A because it affects the success of the entire project.
I have experienced an unexpected roadblock which I should have relayed to you sooner. Due to a family medical emergency the past two weeks, I was unable to meet my obligations. I apologize.”
Jack: “Jill, I am sad to hear about your family emergency. We support you completely and understand that family must come first. In regards to the Charity Event, we have volunteers that can step in to take over your responsibilities. Would that help you?”
Step Three: Ask a solution-focused question.
Jill: “My family situation is resolved and I am now in a position to honor my commitment. I understand that Project A deadlines to date have not been met. If I am able to re-commit to the project as well as utilize the extra volunteers to complete actions X, Y, and Z by August 30th, would you support that?”
Your ability to respond well to criticism reflects strongly on your skills as a leader. The only way we become better is to know the areas that need improvement. If you are able to respond well to criticism, you will stand out among your peers.