Whether it be professionally or personally, evolving is key to reach success. You want to act better, do better, be better. To implement this, you need a strategy and tools.
Getting training in the areas where you want to improve; inspiring yourself in others who, in your eyes, are more like what you aspire to become, and emulating their behaviors; self-assessment; and asking for constructive feedback are some of the best tools you can use to achieve consistent evolution.
However, not all feedback is good, useful or valuable to take into account. It is not always easy to get good feedback. While it may seem strange to you, improving the feedback you receive is entirely within your reach and really up to you.
In this article, we'll give you 5 tips to get really useful feedback:
Asking for feedback can be daunting. We all fear being criticized, and asking people to criticize us, even constructively, requires courage and a real commitment to our growth. However, if your goal is to evolve, don't sabotage yourself and don't use feedback as a way to confirm what you already know.
The pats on the back will lift your ego temporarily, but they won't do anything for you in the long run. Therefore, do not ask for feedback only from people who know that they think similarly to you. Take chances and ask for feedback from a wide range of people: colleagues, friends, customers, bosses, employees, etc. Different realities and perspectives will allow you to get a much more comprehensive view.
If you ask open, but vague questions like, 'What do you think of this?', you'll most likely get answers like: 'Okay', 'It's cute.' or even a 'I love it!' or possibly 'I don't like it very much…'.
Generic answers that don't help you to figure out what you can do better. On the other hand, if your questions are specific, you're much more likely to get equally specific, useful answers. To this extent, try asking, 'What are the 3 things I can improve here?', 'If I had to choose one aspect of my communication to improve, what do you think it should be?'
Start by reflecting on the area in which you want to evolve and define the subareas in which it can be divided, and then ask questions that are specific to them.
For example, if you want to improve your communication, you might consider that your fluency, the number of fillers you use in your language ('uh', 'hmm', 'like'), vocal placement and how you link different topics are all important points.
This way, you can self-assess in these matters and ask for other people's assessment, with specific questions, such as: 'At the meeting just now, did I express myself clearly?', 'Can you sum up the idea you got about what I told you?', 'Do you think I ramble too much?', 'Is my voice audible in presentations?'
To get feedback that is as accurate as possible, it is important that you ask for it at the right time, meaning, as soon as possible. The closer to the situation you ask for feedback, the more people will have in mind about your performance. If you want feedback on how you did in a meeting or presentation, ask for it right away. It's much harder for a person to remember what you did or said last week.
On the other hand, your state of mind when you ask for feedback is also relevant. If you ask for feedback when you're exhausted, angry, frustrated or sad, chances are you won't interpret or accept the opinions you receive in the best way, which will invalidate the whole process.
You don't necessarily have to agree with everything you hear, but since you're the one who asked for someone's opinion, you owe yourself and the other person the respect of listening until the end, without making prior judgments. You should also take into account the opinion you have heard, rather than immediately putting it aside without even reflecing upon it.
Even opinions that may seem unreasonable may teach you somehing, if you allow yourself so.
We can conclude that all opinions are valid and make sense to those who give them. Will they make sense to you? It's up to you to analyze and assess them. The fact that you have requested feedback does not require you to implement what you have been told.
If, after careful consideration, you conclude that an opinion doesn't make sense to you, own it and continue self-assessing and looking for more feedback. However, don't fall for the mistake of asking for feedback without ever implementing changes in your behavior. If you do it often, and always come to the conclusion that you're the one who's right, reflect more deeply upon the opinions you get and the people you ask for feedback. Without changing your behavior, you won't evolve, so make sure you're not just letting your fears of change get the better of you.
Try implementing some of the feedback, even temporarily, and check for positive changes. You can always go back if you reach the conclusion that they are not making you evolve in the direction you are looking for.
An extra tip is to make the action of asking for feedback as easy as possible. The simplest way to build the habit of asking for feedback is to attend an environment conducive to the exchange of ideas and feedback.
When you work from home alone, asking for feedback can seem difficult, since you don't have anyone with you to ask for an opinion in 2 minutes. Therefore, leaving the house, surrounding yourself with people with the same purpose as you, growing and evolving personally and professionally, sharing your ideas, giving feedback when they ask you, will help you get into the right frame of mind. Plus, you can find new job opportunities or projects to collaborate on, which will only help you evolve further. Try it!
Do you ever ask for feedback? Share your experience in the comments.