A common theme flows through our managerial courses here at CAI. It is the importance of feedback - both giving and receiving it. As we like to say, feedback is what sustains great performance and feedback is also what allows us to make course corrections to our performance. We refer to our ever-popular BIT model to demonstrate how to provide feedback of the reinforcing variety as well as the kind needed for improvement.
But, what about the art of accepting feedback, despite how well or poorly it is given? In CAI's Becoming a Totally Responsible Person course, we advise people to follow three simple rules.
First, thank the person providing you with feedback. Sometimes this is difficult. We may be sensitive, hurt or defensive about our performance. Hearing that it does not meet someone else's standard is a bit disappointing. But, when you thank someone for their feedback, it encourages them to continue doing it. That's how we eventually improve. Think of it as rumble strips on the highway. If you drive too far on the side the road, you'll hear the rumble that tells you to get "back on track." This can save our lives.
Second, wait. Take a moment to ponder whether the feedback is accurate and valid as well as the intent of the person providing it. While it may have been clumsily delivered, ask yourself whether all or a part of it is true. If the person is genuinely trying to help you improve, take a deep breath and remind yourself how lucky you are to have someone who cares that much. People tend not to provide feedback when they do not care.
Third, decide later. This means to allow the communication to rattle around in your head a bit and to test it against what you know is true. If the feedback is far off-base, you can easily dismiss it. But, if you feel there is even a grain of truth, ask yourself what you can do to improve or change so that you continue to improve.