Feedback: Powerful but not Easy

Posted by Ann Deaton Share Your Voice

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I've been immersed in sharing 360 feedback results with some amazing clients and thinking about the gift, and the shadow, of feedback. This morning I read a blog by Madeleine Homan Blanchard about her own experience in providing 360 feedback to others and several things became clear to me. Foremost in my thinking was the aspect of courage.

As many of you who know me are aware, courage has been a focus of mine for many years now. We are all afraid of things, and courage is something we manifest daily. We call on our courage when we trust enough to delegate. It takes courage to try new things, knowing we won't be good at it when we first begin. And we are courageous when we dare enough to tell the truth---like giving direct and candid feedback, even when we are afraid it may not be received well.

That's what Homan Blanchard shared in her blog yesterday--that moment of awareness when one decides to pick up the phone and share honest feedback with someone who matters to us. I won't tell you how it turned out for her; you can read her blog for that. However, I will say that our fears of not being heard or of being told we are wrong or unfair or harsh are sometimes justified. People do not always listen to feedback openly and graciously. And we don't have any control over how they receive it--only on how we provide it. Giving feedback well requires that we offer specificity and clarity, and that we ensure the feedback is useful to the other person and offered from a space of caring. The awareness that the feedback is our perception and not necessarily "the truth" is also incredibly valuable.

I am a fan of anonymous 360 processes for the breadth of feedback they can offer. 360s provide an avenue for giving valuable feedback when we aren't feeling courageous, and a structure for providing balanced feedback. The possibility of feedback not being heard is often mitigated in the 360 process by the presence of a coach who is helping the recipient to process the 360 results and look at the enduring themes that may be particularly valuable to pay attention to. Nonetheless, even though a written and anonymous process can be deeply impactful, there is nothing like receiving honest, open, and face-to-face feedback from someone we know is committed to our success. A gift indeed, and one that any of us might courageously ask for.

Questions to consider:

Where are you unsure of your approach? Where are you looking to make some changes? What feedback do you want to request so you have all the data you need to move forward powerfully?

What appreciative feedback have you given lately? How specific and focused were you in giving that feedback? Are you as likely to offer positive feedback as criticism to those around you?

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Small Ann Deaton I am a leadership coach, and Managing Partner in Bounce. I love to coach and facilitate with individuals and systems experiencing significant change and growth. The clients I work with, regardless of their age or position, are talented and creative individuals willing to look with fresh eyes at their challenges and opportunities, and to take action based on their discoveries. As a result, they find that they are capable of accomplishing far greater things than they ever imagined. What do you want to accomplish today? Who do you want to be?

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