This post is part 3 of 3 in the series Feedback: Asking, giving, receiving.

Before the session

Revisit my intention for asking for feedback.

People are most revealing when offering praise or criticism. Praise indicates what they most like about themselves, and criticism often shows what they least like or feel least competent about in themselves, which means feedback is actually a two-way mirror. How can I respond to another person’s feedback with honesty and grace and actually gain new insights about myself and the other person in the process?

Starting the session

“I will do my best to listen with an open mind and not defend my actions. I may need to ask for clarification or better understanding about my behavior. Will that work for you?”

“What else do you need from me during this session?”

Paraphrase what I have heard: “This is what I heard you say… Is that correct?”

Request clarification of feedback: Think about the assumptions I am making about what I hear. “Could I check some assumptions with you?”

Check others’ perception of the feedback: “What does that behavior mean to you?” “How did you interpret my behavior?” “How would you have wanted my behavior to be?”

Remember I’m learning; I’ll do the old behavior again.

“How should we follow-up?”

“What worked in this session?”

“What could we do differently next time?”

Thank them for their generosity, compassion and grace.

After the session

Immediately write down how I am feeling after the feedback.

Look for patterns and summarize what several people have said. Separate the observable facts from others’ interpretations/stories.

Look at when I was at my best. What was present in those moments?

Explore the feelings created by the feedback. When have I experienced this feeling before?

If I start to justify my actions (building a case for why I do what I do), ask myself “Why is it so important to justify my actions?”

Remember, the feedback is an opinion from their world view (i.e. don’t assume it is all true). There is no right or wrong here. And the perspective of another person can be invaluable in clarifying my own perspective.