We should learn to love negative feedback. Like Bill Gates has said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” But that’s easier said than done. Often our natural reaction is to be defensive when under the impression that we’re being criticised or when we think the truth will be threatening. It’s all too easy to quickly justify our own words and actions and fob off naysayers as being ignorant or stupid. Though being Flawsome puts a lot of emphasis on standing up for yourself, it often takes a lot more guts to look in the mirror and be candid about your own motives.
What’s the solution?
When people say things you don’t like, whether it is to your face or via things like reviews, ratings and online comments, set aside your defensive reactions. Instead be curious and ask questions to encourage more detailed feedback. Imagine you are not invested in your own viewpoint and be determined to learn from the criticism. Focus entirely on understanding, keeping in mind the real possibility that you may have misunderstood.
Decide that you will not judge their viewpoint until you have understood it completely and don’t just pretend to ask questions so that you can learn when you really intend to trap or undermine the person, or make them look stupid. Be curious, fascinated and inquisitive.
However, when we’re being curious and asking questions of people, we can’t expect the truth without first making it safe for them to be honest with us. Many companies say they’re open when they’re not. A manager may ask for feedback and then cut down the first person who speaks. An employee may raise an issue and then be vilified for speaking. If you ask for more truth, you have to make it okay for people to speak it.
Never put someone down for having an opinion, instead probe deeper to better understand them. Your curiosity must be genuine if you’re truly going to cure your defensiveness and use feedback for business growth.
Being Flawsome is also about being open-minded, and it’s impossible to be that way if you continue to let your unconscious motivations get in the way.
Here are four steps to being more open minded:
- Choose an opinion.
- Identify and own your investment in it.
- Remove the investment.
- Review the opinion.