My last post provided a simple framework to ensure we offer constructive feedback. Understandably, some readers then got in touch to ask about receiving feedback.
When we receive positive feedback, we sometimes feel embarrassed and try to explain it away. You know the thing – a colleague congratulates you on your presentation to the company meeting and you say ‘oh, the other speakers were much better, I was so nervous and I think I rambled on a bit’ or a dinner guest remarks how delicious your chocolate roulade is and you instantly say ‘it’s such a simple recipe, embarrassingly easy.’ Maybe we could just try smiling and saying ‘thank you’ then move on to another topic of conversation.
So that’s the upside of receiving feedback. What about those times when we receive some constructive negative feedback?
The phrase ‘second score’ refers to that occasion. Your ‘first score’ is the evaluation of a piece of work or your performance in general: sometimes that will be a literal score, perhaps in a performance review, other times it will be a comment along the lines of ‘that wasn’t up to your usual standard’. We can’t go back in time and alter our first score but we can choose our response to it – that response is our ‘second score’.
We can feel quite uncomfortable, embarrassed, emotional, even angry when we receive some negative feedback. Hopefully the person giving you the feedback is giving you the evidence, explaining the impact and then working with you to design and agree the changes you’re going to make. However skilled the person giving feedback, we can still struggle to receive it.
A structure to help you handle feedback better and improve your second score
Another mnemonic for you: PAC. I’m basing the following example on the same situation I used on the last post so if you haven’t already, hop on over to Want to improve performance? Effective feedback is key to familiarise yourself with Paul and his late report.
P is for pause
Firstly, simply pause. Rather than rushing in to justify or defend yourself, take a breath, take a sip of water, compose yourself and when you are ready, move on to step two.
Depending on the nature of the feedback, you may need to suggest meeting again at another time in order for you to have had sufficient opportunity to compose yourself and be ready to discuss the situation further.
A is for ask
Now’s the time to ask for clarification and pin down the specifics – ‘If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that my lateness delivering the Friday report is causing you problems collating the report for the Board, is that right? Is there anything I need to change regarding the actual content of the report or the way in which I present it?’ and you can go on to check that there’s nothing you’ve missed.
C is for confirm
Having asked questions and clarified what needs to change, you can confirm the action you will take.
‘So the report itself is fine. What I plan to do is to block out 8.30am to 9am on a Thursday in my diary each in order to write the report and 8.45am to 9am on a Friday morning to check it over, add any last minute details and have it in your inbox by 9am each Friday. That way it will be with you in plenty of time so you can add it to the final report and submit that by the deadline – would that work for you?’
I think you will agree that this is an incredibly simple structure: that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to accomplish! It takes practice. My experience of using this technique both personally and sharing it with my coaching clients is that it can be invaluable in taking the emotional sting out of feedback, helping to concentrate on the facts rather than assumptions, and allowing us to achieve a better ‘second score’.
Today’s pebble for your thoughts: can you remember a time when you received difficult feedback and feel that you could have handled it better? Will you use PAC to help you respond better in future?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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