It’s YOU and ME.” I was a little puzzled. I didn’t know what she was referring to.

She said, “You said, ‘YOU and I’ yesterday. That’s not correct.”

She was a volunteer. Someone I knew fairly well. She was giving me feedback on a message I had delivered a week ago.

I smiled and said, “Thanks for the feedback.” In reality I was a little annoyed. I wanted to say, “Who cares, it was a week ago.” But experience reminded me that she was trying to be helpful. And she was right.

Feedback can be difficult. When it’s good it’s no problem. In fact it can be affirming. When it’s negative or a critique it can be humbling. How you respond and receive feedback is essential to how people perceive you as a leader. It tells people:

  • Whether or not your are open minded.
  • How well you listen.
  • Whether you are willing to change.

How you respond to their feedback will dictate how they respond to you as a leader. To receive feedback in th most positive way possible you need to make sure you:

  • Actively Listen: If face to face make eye contact. If over the phone respond with an, “Okay” or “I hear you.” In an email respond as soon as possible. When you actively listen it shows the person you are paying attention. The first thing any person delivering feedback wants to know is whether or not they are being heard.
  • Respond With Affirmation: Whether it’s in an email or in person make sure you thank them for their feedback. You might not want their feedback, but thanking them serves the same purpose as in the previous point. Affirmation will also kill any tension. After all delivering feedback is not always easy.
  • Look At The Content And Dismiss The Emotion: It’s easier to respond to the emotion than it is the content of a comment. Take a moment to reflect on what was said before you decide whether or not the feedback is helpful. If it’s all emotion you’ll know the person just wanted to be heard. If there is truth to the content then it’s something worth considering.
  • Give People Permission: You cannot control everyone who wants to make a comment. But, you can set up a system where you receive the best feedback. Give certain people in your life permission to give you the brutal truth. Ask them what they think. Encourage them to share with you their honest opinion. This will allow you weigh their thoughts against someone you might not know.

The better you can be at receiving feedback, the more people will respect you as a leader. They want someone who is going to listen, even if they do not agree. The more you respond positively to their thoughts, the more they’ll approach you positively in the future.

What other tips would you offer someone in receiving feedback?