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5 Ways To Calm ‘Feedback Fires'

| June 4, 2013

by Jim Bruce

The essay for today’s Tuesday Reading, “5 Ways To Calm ‘Feedback Fires’” <>, first appeared in Forbes and comes from the pen of Joseph Folkman.  Folkman is a behavioral statistician who writes on evidence-based improvement.  He is also president and co-founder of Zenger Folkman, a consultancy focused on strengths based development.

After commenting on several examples of people, in particular show-business celebrities, Folkman notes that we can all learn from their examples about what to do and especially what not to do when difficult feedback lands on you.

As leaders, we need feedback to be effective.  Zenger Folkman research has demonstrated that there is a very strong correlation between a leader’s ability to accept and use feedback and their effectiveness as a leader.  Specifically, if you are in the top 10% in your ability to accept and respond to feedback you will reach the 83rd percentile in overall leadership effectiveness.


So, what are the keys to accepting feedback.  Folkman lists five:

1.  Assume that other’s perceptions are real.  The biggest issue in accepting feedback is our unwillingness to believe the feedback we receive.  We automatically believe the feedback is wrong.  Instead, we need to ask:  “What am I doing that leads others to see me that way?”

2.  You need to care.  If you are concerned for and considerate of others you will be more open to listening and willing to change.

3.  Be confident and courageous.  If you assume there is nothing about you that needs to change, you’ll likely not ask for feedback.  This keeps others from sharing their input with you.  Step up, be willing to listen and to change.

4.  Be honest with yourself.  We rationalize and then don’t believe there’s a problem, others cannot be trusted, we’re right, they’re wrong.  Be willing to get more information from different perspectives.

5.  Take steps to change.  People will give you feedback if you’re willing to do something with the information.  And, if you do, people will notice.  On the other hand, if you ignore the feedback, people will give up.  Folkman notes that “people are not picking on you, they are acting with courage.”

So, take some time and reflect on how you receive feedback.  I know that receiving feedback that requires you to change is hard.  Yet, to improve you have to change and that requires being open to the feedback that others are courageous enough to share with us.  Evaluate those words carefully and act on what you learn.


Have a great week.  .  .  .    jim