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Tip 142: Get the Honest Feedback You Need

Andrea Caldwell, a senior leadership consultant at FranklinCovey, shares her suggestions for getting the critical, tough, and valuable feedback that you are looking for.

1. Be clear that you want a critique.

Get people into the right state of mind to be critical. Just letting them know that you’re not looking for encouragement or validation will create a big shift in their minds. You could say something like, “I have an idea that I really need your help with. My biggest concern is that I’m missing something, and it would be a disaster. What am I overlooking here or what are some of the ways that this could go wrong?” Your colleague will most likely engage with your questions because they feel invested in helping you find problems. They won’t worry about offending you with critical feedback and they won’t brush off your question by saying, “Oh sure, that’s a fine idea.”

2. Share an example of how previous feedback has helped you.

Share a piece of critical feedback you received from someone else, and how it’s been helpful. For instance, “Ben said that my project timeline might not be realistic. I took that feedback to heart, and it helped me re-evaluate my planning.” When you’re open about how you appreciate the feedback and how you’ve used it, then the other person will feel more comfortable being honest with you. They’ll understand that your feelings won’t get hurt and that you’re serious about doing something with their feedback.

3. Consider asking face-to-face so you can direct the conversation.

Many people prefer to ask for feedback over email or chat. The thought is probably that it makes it less awkward and gives a person time to reflect. That may be true, but your face can also direct people. For instance, if you look horrified at their feedback, they may soften their comment; if you look interested, encourage them on. They’ll be more likely to keep going, especially if you ask follow-up questions.

Sometimes the key to getting the tough feedback you need lies in finding ways to make it easier for others to share it.


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