I recently received some feedback that was hard to hear.  Seems I had developed a habit I thought was a friendly way to relate when, actually, I had never really stopped to understand how it might be perceived by others.  Turns out, it was rarely received in the manner intended.

Problem: now that I had received the feedback, I could look back on all the times I had reverted to this habit and now felt very embarrassed.  It was very good feedback to receive, just wish I had received it a LONG, LONG time ago.

Ironically, I speak often on using feedback as a relevant tool for leaders driving engagement on teams and within their organizations.  Here I was receiving personal feedback and it still stung even though I understood I needed to hear it and I could put it to good use immediately.

It is good to be reminded how hard even good feedback can be to hear.  So how does it get easier? Good news – it does!  But the twist is you must keep asking for it.  Not intuitive at all, is it?


Requesting feedback often allows a conversation to start in an open and receptive context and the beauty of this resides in the simplicity of the frequency.  Asking often is like eating an elephant one bite at a time, small pieces of feedback to avoid the cataclysmic whopper that crushes the spirit.

Keep in mind that the more this occurs, the easier it is to share things in a more timely and immediate way. Feedback should be timely, specific, include how that action affected the results – good and bad- AND what to do next. This way you understand more of what to continue to do, not to do, and how the other person will recognize it.

So, Leaders, listen up! Here is one tip that is the most useful for you to use consistently.  Out of the book, ‘Thanks for the Feedback’, Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone offer to continually ask for feedback with a simple formula, and I’ve used it – it works!  Simply ask:

“What is the 1 thing that you think I could do more of, or less of, to be more _________  in/with/for __________?”

There is quite a lot of research to support this and you can rephrase this in many ways but the basics are here, you are only asking for one thing so you can focus on improving in manageable amounts.

Turns out, psychologically, we can only handle one negative thing at a time – realistically – and it is good practice to give equal time to the good feedback too.  Giving equal weight to how long you think about both, the 1 positive or the 1 negative feedback you just received, helps you understand where it lands in your future actions.

So, Leaders – have fun with feedback and start asking for it!

Download our eBook: One Bite Feedback eBook

If you could grab the feedback you needed, when you needed it, to be better, get better, and grow in your career… Would you ask for it? Would you be open to receiving it?

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