3 Ways to Make the Most of Difficult Feedback

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Don’t be afraid of feedback.

Five minutes into my first talk to a group of CEOs,  one pushed his chair back, tilted his head back and let out a silent groan. I wasn’t connecting and he was letting me know.

I prepared for weeks. I accepted the feedback and resolved to improve my speaking skills, but I still had 35 minutes to go.

Not all negative feedback is given directly. When you can harness it, you can stop wasting your time and other people’s time. There are three steps to using feedback effectively.

#1 Recognize absence of feedback is negative feedback.

The easiest feedback to give is none.

The giver doesn’t have to risk hurting your feelings, getting you mad or having to defend their feedback. At the end of my CEO talk, there were a couple of questions. They avoided me after the presentation. Nobody offered any feedback.

#2 Give permission for honest feedback.

The next day I called one of the CEOs in the audience and asked for feedback.

He asked was I ready for it and I gave him permission to not hold back. Some of it hurt. He said my talk was indulgent,  vague and verbose. It was painful to hear. It was difficult to not interject.

#3 Just Receive the feedback.

It is hard enough to give negative feedback, so just accept it.

One person’s perspective is not the only perspective and you can get multiple sources. Look for the common threads. They  are telling you something that will help you achieve what you want faster.

The next day, I started the long journey to improve as a speaker.

Two years later, I got a request from the same group to speak. The silent groaner was there. This time his head stayed level and he was engaged throughout. The negative feedback improved my skills.

How might leaders successfully seek feedback?

Alex Vorobieff is a business turnaround specialist, working to implement Business Alignment Tools for their specific needs. Alex has served as clean-up CFO and president of companies in telecommunications, aviation, aerospace, and real estate development, leading successful turnarounds in as little as three months. He shares his how-tos and techniques through Confident ROi magazine and his latest book, Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back.