Friday, September 9, 2011

Are You Willing to Listen to Feedback?

We all make mistakes.

While you probably agree intellectually with that statement, it’s not always easy to admit when you actually make one. Especially when someone else points it out to you.

Learning to graciously respond to constructive feedback is one of the most important skills you can ever learn. But we aren’t taught how to do it in school or at home. Most people respond with defensiveness, excuses, or withdrawal. Those reactions shut down communication, so the recipient of the feedback doesn’t learn anything, and the behavior doesn’t change.

In this video one of the most outstanding and entertaining speakers I know, Lou Heckler, tells a memorable story about his new dentist’s reaction to feedback. It’s a terrific example of a person who really listened and took action.



Next time someone tries to give you constructive feedback, invite that person to tell you more about what happened and what they want you to do instead. When you find out what they're looking for, your chances of delivering that behavior in the future are greatly enhanced.

And be sure to THANK the person for being honest with you. It took courage to bring the subject to your attention.

9 comments:

  1. Great post. Listening to constructive criticism without getting defensive is indeed a very important skill.

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  2. Spot on, Meredith! Love the video of Lou too. It's so important in business AND personal situations to set aside our egos and really listen to constructive criticism. I've come across many people who have such a hard time hearing that they aren't perfect. Funny how the smartest and most successful people are usually the ones who are most aware of their own imperfections!

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  3. I love that the dentist, listened, researched, and solved the problem (trained) rather than eliminating the problem (fired). That was a wise, worthwhile investment for him, and resulted in loyal patients, and a loyal hygienist.

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  4. Jeffrey, Tracy and Karen, thank you so much for your positive feedback and additional insights!

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  5. Thank you very much, Meredith. It made me smile a lot. A good listening comprehension test, too! (^o^)/

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  6. I have come to consider criticism, constructive or otherwise, as suggestions for improvement. It is my sincerest goal to live a life that is premised on moving forward through growth and experiential learning. I welcome suggestions for improvement as they provide me with fuel and a compass for my journey.

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  7. Robb, excellent attitude and approach to receiving feedback. I admire your perspective, and it's one that would benefit everyone because we all have areas we can improve in.

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  8. In my opinion, most patients would have skipped the feedback and simply found another dentist. Lou did that dentist a favor by giving him the chance to respond. A lesson I take away from this is - SEEK feedback, early and often, from your customers. Surveys, follow-up conversations, etc. Be proactive.

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  9. Steve, you are absolutely right about most people AND about proactively seeking feedback. Thank you for adding thos valuable points.

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