The Feedback Dilemma

Learning the art of non-defensive listening
The Feedback Dilemma
Image: T.DALLAS / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).

Or rather we could sharpen each other—if we were just willing to listen.

Is it hard for you to hear feedback? Most of us would like to say that it’s not. After all, each of us wants to be the type of person who humbly and honorably receives and responds to feedback. But the truth is most of us aren’t. I welcome feedback, we think, when it’s valid. Or when it comes from someone I respect. Or when it’s delivered appropriately.

We avoid seeking feedback because it makes us uncomfortable, and we disregard most of what we do hear (which, incidentally, is often poorly delivered). As a society, we are bad at giving feedback, and we’re even worse at receiving it. But without feedback it’s hard to know where you stand at work or in a relationship. You’re essentially flying blind.

A Better Way to Do This

Sheila Heen, coauthor of Thanks For the Feedback, would like to change that. Speaking at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit, Heen identified the incredible value of feedback and encouraged Christian leaders to reevaluate their approach to giving and receiving it.

Most approaches to improving workplace feedback focus on quality and messaging. The emphasis is on providing managers better resources for evaluating performance and better skills for communicating the results of the evaluation. Both are good and necessary, but there’s room for improvement on the other side of the equation too, and that’s a side we can each do something about.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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