In the book Thanks for the Feedback, the authors talk about how most of us receive feedback.
Someone gives us feedback overtly “You’re giving too many details in the all-hands meetings” or covertly [You interrupt your director and they sigh and cross their arms], and then we filter it for if we agree or disagree with what’s been said. Often we disagree or disagree in part and dismiss the feedback outright.
A lot of leaders listen to everything this way.
Do I agree or disagree
- with that choice
- with this assessment
- with this response to a customer
- with this response to a developer
- with this feature choice
- with this order of priorities
The result is often that the leader is always right. And I can assure you it’s not fun to work for a leader who is always right.
A better way to listen to feedback is to ask:
- Where are they right?
- What exactly is the feedback I’m getting right now?
- If they want to be good at their work why would they choose or respond like that?
If you assume benevolence and then seek for the gold you just might find some.
And if you discover that the feedback is malicious or the choice careless you can always adjust your response as needed.