Cloud 2

3 elements to taking constructive feedback

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One of life’s skills is learning from your mistakes. Try these quotes on for size to give context:

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. ~Henry C. Link

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. ~Niels Bohr

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. ~John Powell

Making mistakes is part of the learning process, but how do you know if you’ve made a mistake? Usually someone will tell you. Until you learn the knack of taking feedback, analysing it and acting upon it you are likely doomed to make the same mistakes again (i.e. not learned from it) or you can get into a negative tailspin and add someone else to your hit list! :) Try these 3 simple steps to help you get the most from your learning process:

1. Don’t react badly

Let’s be honest, the first time you hear someone try to give you feedback you’re thinking they’re having a go at you. You get defensive. It’s natural but it’s an awful thing to do. Why? It’s awful because it’s demonstrating a weakness. The other person may also be quite nervous about how to approach you – think if it was you in the position of having to try deliver a difficult message to someone else and they react badly. Nightmare scenario, right? Instead  just wait a little. Don’t make faces, don’t try leap in with a “but…”. Wait.

2. Listen and evaluate

Listening is a really great way to open up relationships. People think more of you and feel better about you when they feel they have been listened to. Listening is also a skill to be learned. Just because you can hear (or read lips for that matter) doesn’t mean you are listening! In business or in personal life, listening well will improve your confidence and self-esteem. It will greatly enhance your ability to communicate effectively and reduce misunderstandings. So, you can see why this is critical in taking feedback. Allow the person to articulate their point, allow for a level of inarticulation with your contributor. Not everyone can express their ideas coherently the first time around, especially if they have not given enough thought to the content and the structure of their messaging. Doing this puts you in a strong position to then objectively evaluate the critique being delivered.

3. Break it down and learn from it

Either the person given the feedback has been clear (like comments here for example), or you might now need to delve deeper. What the visitor wanted in my example was more pictures – no problem! I’ve now just learned something very valuable, and a valuable lesson for anyone starting in internet marketing too – listen to people, give people what they want.

Where the feedback is not entirely clear or upon evaluation you think there is merit in clarification then this is your chance to ask questions about what the feedback really means. Play it back to your contributor to ensure that what you listened to is accurate:

“Ok, so what you’ve said to me is….”, followed by; “What I think I need to do is…”. It is also ok to ask for something in return here if it enables you to do something different.

Continue with the conversation until an agreement has been reached. Thank your contributor for their feedback and your opportunity to improve.

I hope you found this article helpful. Put it into practice and see what improvements you can make. There’s also a great resource here you can use to research the topic a little more deeply. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!


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