1. Look for everyday opportunities. Feedback is easier to seek and apply in low-risk, daily interactions rather than high-stakes situations. Instead of waiting for the “big gig,” seek feedback on a regular basis. Soliciting feedback involves just a few minutes before and after a conversation, meeting, presentation or even an email.
2. Go ahead. Ask. Prior to an interaction (e.g., meeting, presentation, face-to-face or virtual conversation), ask someone you trust to observe you and give you feedback. This may be a co-worker, mentor, friend or family member. Ask this person to watch for specific ineffective verbal and nonverbal behaviors you would like to change. For example, “I’m trying to avoid beginning my sentences with the word ‘so.’ Please let me know what you hear.” Or, “I’m working on making my emails clear and concise. Please let me know if my writing is unclear or confusing.”
3. Make it simple. Focus on one behavior at a time. Why just one? First, it is difficult for others to accurately observe multiple areas of communication. Second, if you ask for feedback on multiple items, you risk diluting the feedback, becoming overwhelmed and not taking action on anything.
4. Dig deeper. After the interaction, avoid asking the generic question, “How did I do?” Instead, ask the person to describe precisely what you said or did. For example, “What behavior did I display that conveyed confidence (or whichever area you are seeking feedback about)?” If the person responds with generalities such as, “You did well,” ask follow-up questions: “What specifically did I do that was good?” “What specifically could I do to sound and look more confident?” “What could I have said to make you take immediate action on my email?”
5. Clarify. Summarize to ensure you correctly heard the feedback you received.
6. Assess the experience. After receiving feedback, consider:
- How did the feedback differ from your perception of how you communicated?
- What will you change as a result of the feedback?
- How did you feel receiving this feedback?
Please drop me a note to share the steps you took this month to ensure you are consistent for all interactions or tag me on my Facebook page.
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