Giving and receiving feedback can sometimes backfire - we've all experienced it. One of the 'tricks' to giving and receiving feedback effectively starts BEFORE you even open your mouth or begin the conversation: it starts with your mindset and the context of the relationship between the feedback conversation partners. In my latest vlog (video blog), I help you recognize both the right mindset and the proper context for giving feedback in a way that's better received. It can also help you improve your ability to make the most of feedback when you're on the receiving end of it. Take 5 minutes to watch, and then take a few seconds to chime in the comments below. I'd love to know what you think!
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Halelly: Hi, this is Halelly Azulay of TalentGrow. I wanted to tell you a little more about some of the work I’m doing right now with clients who are trying to change the culture of their organization from one where feedback happens kind of on a once a year basis, officially, when people are doing their performance reviews, to making sure that feedback happens regularly, informally, in ad hoc kind of conversations, in hallways, right before client meetings, right before an important product launch or whenever things are happening where someone could use some information about how well they’re doing, both in terms of positives as well as ways that they could improve. Now, one of the things that a lot of people that talk to me about feedback want to know is, what is the way to have a feedback conversation? What are the steps for having an effective feedback conversation? And I have those suggestions for you. But what’s really important is if we really want to change the culture to one where feedback happens more frequently, and in a better quality way that actually has an impact, you need to step back. And before you think about the steps to having a feedback conversation, you need to think about the mindset that guides you to that feedback conversation and also the context for that conversation, the environment, the relationship.
What we know from the work of Dr. Carol Dweck is that there are two different kinds of mindset out there that can really inform the way that you give feedback and the way that you receive feedback, and can completely transform the way in which people react to feedback. We need to make sure we have the right mindset in mind before we give feedback, and also when we receive it. She describes two different mindsets – a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. And really quickly, in a nutshell, what that means is if I have a fixed mindset it means that I think that I am pretty much the way I am, and that there really isn’t a lot of room for improvement. I am the way I am and that’s the best that I can do. So when I get feedback, when I receive feedback in that kind of a fixed mindset, I see it as something that kind of cuts me down because I don’t see it as something I can really do very much with. Also, if I’m giving someone feedback and that’s my mindset, this fixed mindset, I’m much less likely to give them feedback in the first place, and as I give them feedback I kind of think there’s not that much that they can do with it. So I give it in a different kind of way.
Whereas if I see a growth mindset, it means that I think I’m a work in progress. Everyone is. And so we’re always shooting for mastering. We’re always growing our skills and developing ourselves, and it isn’t binary like I have or don’t have it, but where am I on that journey? And so I’m always seeking feedback because it helps me develop. And if I’m giving feedback, I see that that person is much more likely to use it in a way that helps them achieve greater mastery of whatever the skillset is that they’re trying to grow. So a growth mindset helps us be much more open to feedback, much more interested in getting feedback, and much more likely to use it. So if we can incorporate more of a growth mindset when we’re receiving, soliciting and giving feedback, that feedback is going to be much more meaningful. It’s going to be given more frequently, and it’s going to be given in a way that’s more helpful than if we have a fixed mindset.
Now, I said that you have to have the right mindset. You also have to have the right kind of environment, or context. And more specifically, there needs to be a context of trust and safety. If I trust you, that you have my best interests at heart, I’m much more likely to be open to receiving your feedback, even if it comes across as a surprise or maybe even not so pleasant to hear, because I thought that I was doing great and now you’re telling me about something I could improve. But I’m going to be more likely to be open to receiving it and less likely to be defensive because I understand that there is trust between us, and I think that you have my best interests in mind. Also in terms of safety – if you give me some feedback and I need to now try to do something different than what I’m used to doing, that means that there is a very high risk that I’ll do it wrong. You know, when we first try out a new skill, there is a great chance that we’ll fail. So how is that failure taken in the workplace? Is there punitive damage that is caused by my failure? Do I get reprimanded for failing when I try something new, based on the feedback I received? Or is there safety to try new skills, even maybe to fail and I know that you’re going to help me out as my manager or whoever is guiding me along, my mentor, my coach, to help me understand and learn from my failures because I’m on a journey to grow.
So be thinking about the mindset and be thinking about the context of safety and trust before you think about how to have a conversation and what do I say first and what do I say second. Because most likely, that’s going to have a huge impact on how well that feedback is received. I’m going to talk more about how to give feedback, but I really wanted you to think about those things first. I’d love to know what you thought about it and if you had any specific experiences with something like this, please put them in the comments below in the vlog, because that’s where it’s going to be great conversation.