Brace for Impact! Two Tips to Manage Feedback

Car CrashMy wife and I had just finished getting some groceries when we were in our car stopped at a light waiting to exit the parking lot. It was winter in Idaho, and it was snowing. I was watching the traffic and noticed a car that was coming towards us with the blinker on. As it approached, I saw the wheels were turned, but the car was not turning and was still coming towards us. “Oh snap!” was all I said while bracing for impact. The car hit us. I get that same “brace for impact” feeling when I am going to receive feedback. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work with many great people. Recently I have listened to a webinar called “Feedback Jiu-Jitsu” by Glade Holman, LearningBridge’s founder. He provides six tips on receiving feedback, and I would like to share some of the things I learned.

Language Matters

Often times, when we receive feedback in a professional setting, it is tied to a performance review. Performance reviews tend to focus more on measure and assess which can affect our salary compensation or possible job promotions. However, this tends to put us in a fixed mindset and triggers our defense to feedback. That reaction is unfortunate because, by nature, we want to grow and improve ourselves and our surroundings. That’s why as people we tend to do home improvement projects, continue our education, and exercise our bodies. The problem with a performance review that puts us into a fixed mindset is that we are unable to focus on growing. If we want employees to grow, we need to avoid the measure and assess language of performance reviews. Doing so will help establish a growth mindset so we can focus on what we need to do to improve ourselves.

Recently my kids went “back to school” (they are doing distance learning from home). As I read through the mountain of information brought home by my kids (5 kids from 4 different schools), I saw the phrase “growth mindset”. I was happy to explain to my daughter how neat it is that her teacher has this idea in mind. We all naturally want to learn, grow, and become better.

Focus on the Future

Cyclist Climbing a Hill Having a growth mindset allows us now to focus on the future. I have started cycling, and there is a hill with a 3.5-mile climb. I notice when I am not focused on the road ahead, have my head down with no goal in mind, negative thoughts enter my head. I think about stopping. Many times I have considered calling my wife to come pick me up. When I keep my head up and eyes focused on the path ahead of me, I can see myself getting closer (though at times my progress is really slow). I am able to make milestones for myself. I can go to that big rock up ahead on the side of the road. I can go to that curve in the road. I can go to that flat spot up ahead. This allows me to keep my momentum moving forward. Similarly, in my professional life, by focusing on the future, I can break down how to achieve the larger goal by setting smaller ones to help me move forward along the path.

I will never forget the fear I felt clutching the steering wheel that wintery night in Idaho as I watched that car sliding towards us. But with these two tips in mind, I will not have to “brace for impact” when feedback is coming my way. I will be able to act on the feedback and propel myself into the future, and you can too!