Let’s say you are excited about something you want to do. You’ve spent the last few months thinking about it (or longer), reading about it, and the thought of acting on it ignites your passion. Then you talk to your team about it and they give you information that is not in alignment with what you thought. What will you do? Gather more information? Dismiss the feedback you received and proceed anyway? Why did you ask for the feedback if you were not going to be affected by the professional opinions you received?
We can justify our positions and actions with ease. When asking for team members’ and others’ professional and experienced opinions, being aware of whether you are listening for confirmation or information can be vital to strengthening your relation with your team.
Here are some tips on how to listen to feedback for information gathering purposes:
1. Don’t ask if you are not open to the feedback and plan to consider what you are told.
2. Consider the source BEFORE you ask. Does that person have experience you would find credible in the area you are asking feedback about? Do they have an expertise in that area? Will that person need to execute the idea or action you are requesting feedback about?
3. Ask open-ended questions. Asking something like: don’t you think this a great idea? Asking questions that solicit a yes or no answer in which the person you are asking can not qualify or expound on their answer is not looking for information. You are using questions that sell your idea or concept and simply putting a question mark at the end of the statement.
4. Let your team or the person know why you are asking for their feedback so they can be sure they know what you plan on doing with it. Stating your intentions upfront can go a long way in maintaining trust and openness with the person or persons you are asking feedback from. Do NOT interrupt. Besides being rude, it disrupts the person’s train of thought. If you are asking for feedback and are pressed for time, be sure to let them know how long you have to listen to them at the beginning of the meeting.
5. Let them know what you did because of their feedback. If you’ve asked for feedback and then went in a different direction then what they recommended to you, follow up with them so they know why you chose what you did. Again, don’t ask for feedback if you have not done steps 1 and 2.
6. If the feedback is really important to you give them a preview of what you want feedback on the day before so they have time to consider it and bring you their highest level thinking.
Openly listening for others feedback can save you lots of time and money if you follow these steps. Can you remember a time when you received feedback on an idea or concept you had and because of that feedback you were guided to a much better plan of action? Do you need to thank someone for their valuable feedback today? It will only take about 2 minutes to send a quick thank you and I know that person will be glad they were helpful to you.