“She said she wanted honest feedback.  When I give her feedback, she gets defensive and shuts down the conversation.”  These were the words of a frustrated leader whose senior leader opened the door to feedback and then quickly shut the door when the feedback was provided. While many leaders understand the importance of feedback, the sting of it can be very uncomfortable because they do not get much of it.

As a leader consider your response to unsolicited feedback.  Do you keep the door open or shut it at the first sign of criticism?  Here are a few tips for making it easy to get the feedback that will increase your leadership effectiveness.

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of the individual giving you feedback. Try to see the feedback situation from their perspective.  Consider what it took for the person to come to you, and listen without debate or dismissal.
  2. Understand that no one is perfect. Giving feedback is an uncomfortable task. As a result, the   message may come out “clunky” and “messy.”  Show patience and grace, knowing that the person must hold you in high regard to risk delivering a tough message.
  3. Be grateful. Once again, giving tough feedback takes courage. It is better to know than to operate in the dark.  Share your thanks when someone cares enough to take the risk and shed light on an issue.