Ask for Feedback
By embracing feedback and seeking it with the right mindset, individuals can unlock their true potential and make informed decisions to navigate their personal growth journey. There's a need to view feedback as a strength rather than a weakness, recognising that it provides valuable insights that can shape and refine one's self-awareness. By leveraging qualitative conversations and incorporating feedback into regular practices, individuals can harness its power to fuel their personal and professional development, paving the way for increased resilience, confidence, and success.
In this week's episode, let me share the importance of feedback in personal growth and leadership development, and let me help you view feedback as valuable data from others' perspectives, allowing for a more accurate understanding of oneself.
Do you tend to have a lot of blind spots and you perhaps see things about yourself a little bit differently to everybody else?
Well, that's okay. That happens to all of us.
Stick with me because in this week's episode, I want to help you to understand how to use something as a strength that you tend to think is a weakness.
Hi, this is Grant Herbert, VUCA Leadership and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today I want to continue our conversation around all things Emotional Intelligence and building ourselves up to be a strong and confident leader, by helping you to understand that it's a great thing to ask for feedback.
Throughout my entire military and my corporate careers, there were things that didn't quite go as they could have. I tended to put my head in the sand or blame everybody else and think it was all external.
I didn't want to believe things that might be true about myself, my own beliefs and behaviour. The reason for this was that I thought that if I looked into those things, I might find out things I didn't want to know.
As you continue to get more self-aware (working in this first area of emotional intelligence), you need to be able to accurately assess where you are with each of these competencies.
Most people I work with either overestimate their ability in the competencies of Emotional Intelligence or they underestimate their own abilities as well.
It doesn't matter where you are — whether you're here, there or right in the middle. The other thing to know is that where you are in your level of competence, in any of those Emotional Intelligence areas, has no bearing on where anyone else is.
It's not a competition.
It's not another opportunity to mark yourself down or to compare yourself with others and therefore, give yourself more evidence that you are not who you really want to be.
The competency that we're working on here is called Accurate Self-Assessment. The key words there are “self-assessment”.
When I work with people, I get them to do (whether it be in a formal way or just in conversation) an estimation of where they think they are in the 26 competencies of Social and Emotional Intelligence. I explain to them that it doesn't matter where you feel you are in relation to what other people might think. The reason being is that people have their own perceptions.
Some people mark HIGH and some mark LOW.
Some people mark you based on what they see.
Throughout my entire career people would see me as being very confident in having it all together because that was the external persona that I was putting on. But deep inside I had a different understanding of what was going on.
So, why do you want to really be accurate when you assess yourself in these competencies?
Well, the simple fact is that if you are going on a journey towards the results that you want, you need to know a true reality of where you are.
Whenever you go on a journey, you must know your start point.
By being able to look in a certain way at your abilities, you can accurately assess where you are in relation to where you want to go, and therefore, have a gap that you know you need to fill.
As we've talked about before, it's not about a dichotomy where “If I'm here, I need to be here.”
But, it’s about being able to know where you can move towards incrementally. However, if you start at the wrong point, you’re going to get all the calculations wrong around the resources that you need to take and the fuel stops that you need to do, and all those other metaphors that I could throw in here to do with a journey if you were going in a car.
So, you need to get an accurate assessment.
To do that, the first thing you need to do is be okay with asking for feedback.You will see yourself differently to the way others might see you because it's their perception of the part of you that you are showing them.
If we look at Personal Power which is somehow equivalent to confidence, someone may see you differently to the way you see yourself. Therefore, they will behave differently around you and with you as you navigate through certain situations.
Asking for feedback from others will give you a more accurate understanding of where you are.
One of the reasons we don't want to ask for feedback is we may not like the answers that we get. And since we are still building our Personal Power —our own sense of worth and identity — that what we find out from others may further push the buttons on the “People Pleasing”, “Performance Trap”, “Imposter Syndrome”, and all those things that we've talked about.
Also, based on our own beliefs and understandings, the feedback that we get might be reacted to as a defense mechanism. Therefore, it doesn't become something that is valuable.
So, step one is to get a mindset around feedback where you view it as something that’s “all it is”. You view it as data from someone else's perspective that you can put into the mix so you can have a greater understanding of where you might be right now.
Feedback from others isn't always true. This is because it is based on their perception. However, when you process it through the logical processes of the brain, rather than allowing it to go deep into the emotion where it offends you or you allow it to hurt your feelings, you can use it to its advantage.
When you ask for feedback, you need to be able to do it in a certain way.
What I find is that in most times, when people ask for feedback is as soon as they ask, they’re ready to fight back and rebut what's said, and that mini-me is armed to keep you safe.
So, what happens most of the time, is when people ask for feedback and hear the feedback, they immediately look to respond.
Now that you understand that feedback is something that is important and vital in this process, you need to ask for it with a different frame of mind.
You need to ask and then listen; rather than respond.
When you’re asking for feedback, you are collecting data.
By asking someone how they see you in a certain area, allows you to actively listen and then take some physical or mental notes about what they're saying.
You disassociate the feedback from you (the person) and hear it with ears that are just there to collect data.
So, asking is the first thing.
Then, instead of responding, or in most cases reacting, the next thing that you do is to thank the person for giving you the feedback.
Doing this does two things:
1. It is a good thing to do because they've done something for you so you are being polite and thanking them.
2. It disrupts the normal pattern of “feedback-response”. So, you say: “Thank you. I appreciate you saying that,” or “I appreciate your feedback.”
What you're now able to do is to use that feedback in the process that you're going through in a healthy way.
If the feedback is something that you don't understand, then this is where you use your active listening skills and ask back and say:
“That’s interesting. Thank you for that. Can you give me an example or can you help me to understand why you would think that or why you see me that way?”
So, you are getting clarification on what it is that you are hearing, rather than making up your own mind around what they mean by the feedback.
Asking for feedback is vitally important.
Doing it in a way that is going to help you rather than hurt you and your relationships will mean that you get to a position of seeing it as a strength and not a weakness. You will get to see it as a help, not a harm, and it'll become second nature that you get feedback from those around you.
In my experience, through my corporate career, the only time people would get feedback would be in an annual review, or if we did some sort of formalized 360 feedback where people put in all their perspectives in a qualitative manner that was all put together, and then decisions were made around that.
However, when you ask for feedback with the right mindset and the right behaviour, you’re able to have qualitative conversations that give you the resource that you need to be able to know exactly where you are. Then, make decisions around what you need to shift so that you can get to where you want to go.
Well, that's it from me for another week. Join me again next week as we continue this conversation, stepping through this first quadrant of Emotional Intelligence of Self-Awareness, by uncovering your greatest power as a leader. I'll see you then.