It seems like a pretty straightforward question. Of course the answer is you know you better than anyone else. Here is a more difficult question – How well can you explain you to someone else? Being able to do that requires taking your overall belief of who you are and put it, honestly, into words. That is more complex than it sounds. Psychology studies have shown it is common for people to tell others who they wish they were rather than who they really are. Not because they are mean spirited and lying. But because the desire is so strong we believe we really are who we want to be. Which means maybe you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do.
Here is a great personal development exercise to help you learn a little bit about yourself (it also works well for advance team development). Think about how you prefer to receive feedback. If you are like most people how you want to receive feedback has never crossed your mind. But when someone does it wrong you certainly recognize it and become hurt or angry. So, if someone has something they want to discuss with you, what is the best way to approach you?
Here are a few examples I have heard from clients to get you started:
“Feedback works best for me one on one and in private. When someone tries to give me feedback and other people can hear it I feel criticized and am quick to become defensive. Once that happens I have a hard time taking it in and using what is being said.”
“I am pretty good at hearing feedback as feedback when it is coming from someone I trust. When I know someone it’s cool if they just say ‘hey, do it this way’. But if it is somebody I don’t really know it is better if they pull me aside.”
“I have a pretty tough skin and I’m all about getting better. If someone sees something I can improve I want them to speak up right away. That way I have context for what they are telling me. After the fact I won’t be able to apply it.”
“I know I’m a softie when it comes to being told I’m doing something wrong. I feel like a failure and stupid. I am working on not shutting down when people try to help me get better… I guess for me it works best if my teammates know to be nice about it. I want feedback. I want to get better. It is something I can use some help with.”
So if I had some feedback, simple or serious, what would be the best way for me to talk to you about it so you could hear and use it effectively? After you know what works best for you, who needs to know? That might be a tricky question too. You are opening up to someone when you share about yourself. Who do you trust? Who will use the information to make you better and who will use it to tear you down?
Like I said at the beginning – This is a great personal development exercise. I recommend it to anyone wanting to grow as an individual. If you implement it for team development, keep in mind it should be used for teams well on the path to being cohesive. If you try to get team members who don’t trust each other to share this type of information they will lie to make themselves looks good. That totally defeats the purpose of the exercise.
Do you think you and/or your team could benefit from this exercise? Have you witnessed a situation where someone tried to give feedback in a way couldn’t be heard? We would love to hear from you in the comments or contact Doc Robyn directly.
Come back next week to learn how to deal with toxic, negative people.
Do you wish your athletes or employees would share more of their ideas? Read last week’s topic for ideas on how to create an environment where good ideas don’t get lost.