Feedback is a gift, but not all gifts are useful :). Which feedback to listen to and what to discard? What is useful and what isn’t?
It actually starts with the oft-repeated catchphrase – you have to figure out who you are. I know this sounds cliche but this is the central component of understanding and receiving feedback. What are your default behaviors?
- Are you outspoken in public? or private?
- Are you introverted or extroverted?
- Do you have a bias towards execution or strategy?
- Are you an I’ll make a deck first guy or I’ll implement the idea, first guy?
Once you have a good baseline of who you are, all feedback should be assessed by asking the question – Is this feedback asking me to change who I am? Say you have a bias for execution and the feedback that you hear is that you need to be more Strategic. You could try and fake it – but that’s not you, by default you are going to bend towards execution.
Does that mean that you should abandon all feedback that doesn’t confirm and reinforce your current ways? No. Use the opportunity to have a dialogue with the feedback giver about your default behaviors. They can see where you are coming from. Take it a bit further and if the feedback is about something that you absolutely cannot change about you – state it clearly. If the feedback giver has your best interests at heart and is self-aware, they will further the conversation and tailor the feedback with keeping your default behaviors in mind. To go back to the earlier example of being more strategic. For a person with a default bias towards execution, the tailored feedback could be – You have good instincts on what initiatives to pursue, but a lot of other team members do not have the same context and think the same way as you do. So when you just do something, they are not bought along on the journey. What would help is if you could wrap up your instincts and a tell a story/ provide context along with some data on how you got there. This will supercharge your execution. Now, you are better receptive to the feedback. You will truly make progress.
If your feedback givers are not self-aware and really not interested in improving you – then they will just disappear – which is also great :).