“Well that didn’t go so well.”
“This isn’t what I wanted.”
“You’re just so…unapproachable.”
How often have you heard this kind of criticism?
As working women, we’re statistically proven to be given less concrete, actionable feedback than our male counterparts.
So what do we do when we get this kind of feedback? How is the most constructive way to receive it?
Here are the steps to getting the most out of what starts off as a very uncomfortable situation:
First things first. You must thank the person.
Not a sarcastic thank you, but a sincere one. You have to take out the sting and the emotional charge. Practice this! It’s not easy to do.
Next, you have to get beyond the vaguely worded criticism and find the behavior that the person objected to. By doing this, you can understand specifically what behavior you exhibited that prompted this person to criticize you.
A way that you could do this is by asking a question. This could sound like “Could you please tell me specifically what part of my presentation didn’t go so well?”.
By asking some clarifying questions, you can get to the bottom of why this criticism was delivered and understand some actionable takeaways on behavior change that could make you even more effective.
Now, I think it’s important to note here that if the person gets defensive or can’t come up with specifics after a few layers of questioning, it’s ok for you to decide that their feedback isn’t valid! Sometimes the reason that a person criticizes has more to do with them than you.
Not every piece of feedback demands that you change your behavior.
You get to decide, ultimately, what’s valid for you.
If you decide that the criticism is valid, best to make the most of it.
Think to yourself what you could do differently next time.
If it was your boss that criticized you, after you get the clarifying details that lets you tease out the behavior, you should commit to your boss that you will change the behavior in the future.
How you receive feedback is a critical piece of how you are perceived as a leader. Use these opportunities to you advantage to continuously improve your own performance whenever they arise!