staying open

Ouch! But Necessary

Last month we looked at how to give feedback respectfully and ask for a change in someone’s behaviour. Now we’ll talk at the toughest part. Hearing it.

A friend of mine had a counsellor who challenged her for one month to accept all suggestions from others with only the reply, “Thank you for your feedback. I’ll consider that.”

Honestly, short of going without chocolate for the rest of my life, I can’t imagine a greater test, especially when it’s an emotionally-charged issue.

But the counsellor was right.

A critical step to staying open is to thank the person for bringing the issue to your attention.

If it’s a bad time for you or the location is not private, you can suggest a new time or move to another room. Then breathe. No one likes hearing this stuff, so try to listen to what the other person is saying. Make sure you understand their message.

“What you’re saying is that me not putting my dishes or laundry away as we agreed leaves the house messy and it’s disrespectful to you. Does that sound right?” Or “You want me to use a calmer and quieter tone of voice when I speak to my team about these problems. Is that what you’re saying?”

If the matter is not important to you, remember it’s significant to the other person so it’s worth considering the other person’s feedback for the sake of your relationship or your job.

When you discuss the solution, stay calm. Offer what you can do differently and what you would ask them to do as well.

Receiving criticism isn’t easy, but it is a huge opportunity to grow.

You also can read this article in the newspaper The District News, available throughout the Saint John region.

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