Years ago, I asked my husband if there were one thing he’d like me to change, what would it be. “Be totally honest with me, I’d really like to know,” I said. He thought for a few seconds (seconds!) and said…“Pick up your shoes.”
What? He was serious. It bugged him that I took off my shoes as soon as I got home and left them near the front door. (I love walking barefoot.) So, now I drop them in the Florida room.
When you ask for feedback, you have to be ready to hear it. Everyone sees things through their lens (not yours).
You want honesty, truth. If there’s something you do that bugs others, or holds you back in some way, you don’t want to keep doing it. Because when irritants are not addressed, they rupture in different ways.
Here are six ways to increase your chances of hearing the truth when asking for feedback from your colleagues:
- Tell them you’d like their totally honest feedback and you’re asking them because you trust and value their judgment.
- Tell them their candor will be a favor to you because less than the truth will not be helpful. Say, “Don’t be nice. Be helpful. I’d really like to know what you think.” If they’re hesitant, tell them you’re wearing armor under your clothes, you can take it.
- Ask what you could start doing that would make a difference. By focusing on the future, as opposed to what you’ve done wrong in the past, people tend to be more open.
- Some won’t trust that you really want to hear the truth until you’ve asked for it a few times, over time. I worked with a leader whose people didn’t open up until the third meeting. Then they knew he really meant it.
- This is the hard part: listen with an open mind. Don’t judge the feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. Thank them for being honest and let them know their observations are helpful. The way you respond will determine if you’ll get honest feedback in the future. Get defensive or dismissive, and you can forget about ever hearing the truth again.
- Write down what they say. They’ll know you’re taking it seriously, even if you write only a few words. While you’re writing, they’ll be thinking. You may want to say “Tell me more…” to see what else they’re thinking.
Being open to candid feedback is a real growth opportunity. Many of my clients have been pleasantly surprised at what they’ve learned from it. I bet you will be, too.
P.S. Don’t hesitate to pass this on. It might help you get some candid feedback.