Ever been given feedback that you disagree with? What was your response?
If you are like most, then your response was probably along the lines of:
- Anger; “Where does he/she get off telling me that.”
- Denial; “That’s not how it happened.”
- Deflection; “He/she should concentrate on their own problems.”
- Righteousness; “What would he/she know? I know more about this than them.”
What if the feedback they have given you is accurate?
What if what you are being told is true?
Well guess what? It is.
And if you listen to it, it will lead to an improvement in your interpersonal skills, improve others perceptions of you and help to fast track your career.
In my career, I have been lucky enough to work in some high feedback environments from sports teams to organisations. The most useful and powerful feedback I received was often initially difficult to swallow, but once improved, played out very positively.
Recently, I received feedback from a third party who I had limited experiences with, which conflicted and was the opposite of feedback I had received from peers in a 360 process. In fact, my peers had highlighted this as a strength of mine and I had been provided opportunities in my career as a result of these strengths.
It was perplexing!
Initially I struggled to rationalise if my perception and that of my peers was right, or whether this person (who had only limited exposure to me) was making the right interpretation.
The reality? All perspectives are correct.
The image this person had of me in that short time demonstrated a weakness in an area that others had seen as a strength.
Is that his fault or mine? Should I blame him, for reading the signals I was sending him? Of course I can’t.
This person’s perception is accurate from his point of view. He was only able to use the data points and observations available to him. What I realised, is that it is important to recognise that those we interact with, whether that be an internal stakeholder, board member, peer, supplier, customer, etc will treat their perception of you as their reality. It is your role to ensure others see the value you can offer, and sometimes you don’t get a great deal of time to show it.
The message in all of this is that all feedback you receive (and if you want to improve, I strongly believe you should seek out constructive feedback) is going to be based on what people perceive of you in situations. It may not be what you think you are doing.
So the next time you receive feedback you don’t agree with, find a way to appreciate it and see it for what it is. Someone else’s viewpoint of what they have seen of you.