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Respond Positively When Receiving Input

3 min read

Learn how to respond to feedback and why the keys are to be positive, simple, focused, and fast!

Leadership Is A Contact Sport step 5 of 8:  Respond!

By Marshall Goldsmith

If there is one thing I know, it’s how to respond to feedback. A pioneer in the use of customized, 360 degree feedback (confidential feedback from direct reports, peers and managers) as a leadership development tool, I’ve spent the last 30 years using feedback to help people change for the better. In 1993, I received my first national recognition for this work and was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten executive educators in this extraordinary field, which has evolved to become known as “executive coaching.” So, yes, I do know a little about which I speak.

Enough about me. Let’s delve into this subject of responding to feedback. Don’t spend hours and hours on it. You want your response to be positive, simple, focused, and fast.

  1. Positive: Thank your stakeholder for taking the time to provide you feedback. Acknowledge that you don’t know who said what, but you are very grateful that everyone took the time to provide this helpful information.
  2. Simple: Mention to your stakeholder that there were many positive characteristics that were noted in the feedback and this is helpful and makes you feel good!
  3. Focused: Then say that there is a behavior that came up that you would like to change. You would like to apologize for this bad habit. You would like to work on being (fill in the blank, stubborn, opinionated, a poor listener).
  4. Fast: Ask your stakeholder for ideas about how you can improve in the future. Don’t critique these ideas. Fight the urge to judge them either good or bad. Just listen to this person’s ideas and say “Thank you.”

Here is a quick explanation of apologizing, the magic move when you respond to feedback. Genuinely apologizing is one of the most magical healing, restorative gestures a person can make. Without the apology, there is no recognition or acknowledgement that mistakes have been made, there is no announcement that you intend to change, and most importantly, there is no emotional contract between you and the people you care about.

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