Do you invite and welcome feedback and suggestions so you can get better? For many years, I didn’t. Without doing psychoanalysis, I’m guessing it’s because I didn’t want to feel like there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to admit that I might have been saying or doing the wrong things.
However, I eventually realized that feedback was my friend. I adopted a mindset that there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback. I also realized that if I would be more open to change and grow, it would prompt my kids to be more accepting of feedback, as well. Thinking about them instead of me was key.
When I, as a parent, solicit feedback and am open to change, it models a very critical attribute that will be fundamental for my kids’ future success. Watching me seek and solicit ways to improve will help prepare them for life, whether they enter the workforce or start their own business.
If they learn how to welcome and accept feedback at an early age, they’ll be able to demonstrate unusual maturity when they receive it from managers or customers, which will give them a leg up.
There is a unique type of feedback, which I call Transformation Feedback, and I’ve found it to be much more effective in creating sustainable change than traditional feedback. This type of feedback isn’t focused on what a person does wrong.
Instead, the focus is on what the person can do in the future…suggestions for improvement. Traditional feedback is a review of what’s happened in the past. Too often people view feedback as criticism or an attack on their character and immediately enter into defense mode. And, often the person providing the feedback can come across as negative and judgmental.
But asking my kid’s questions like, “What can I do to be a better dad?” or “How can I be more supportive?” puts the focus on what I can do moving forward, not on the mistakes I’ve made in the past. It gives me something to focus on as a parent, not something to defend or feel bad about. Plus, it provides the kids with a voice and an opportunity to contribute directly to my improvement.
If you’re brave enough to try this, it’s important to be consistent in the process and not just give it lip service. Genuinely seek suggestions, take action on the suggestions, and then ask for follow-up on how you’re doing. Research has shown that regular accountability from someone we trust can significantly enhance our ability to realize sustainable change.
Try this method with your spouse as well. Do you have people you lead in the workplace? Try it with them. You might be surprised how quickly it can transform you and those you lead.
· Assess how open are you to feedback and how do you normally respond?
· When you give feedback, is it focused on what your kids did wrong, or suggestions for improvement moving forward?
· For more information and a worksheet for parents to help guide the process, click the blue download button below to get the PDF. Feel free to adapt to your specific situation.