You have just spent hours working really hard on a project. No, let’s get this into perspective – you poured your heart and soul into it, the extra mile is so far in your rear view mirror that it’s a dot on the horizon.
Then someone says those heartbreaking words “Can I give you some feedback?” and it’s about some petty small point that you already knew about and was going to fix anyway. As you attempt to explain this to them, they seem to get upset and avoid you. When you ask for help at a later date they seem to be cold and distant. You look up to the heavens in despair, you now have some distance on that project and ironically the timing for feedback is now perfect.
Comedy and feedback is all in the timing
Feedback is the breakfast of champions as we have established in other articles. For growth to happen you first have to be able to clearly hear and assimilate the feedback. When you are too close to what you are working on, you are often too tired to hear the feedback and this can appear to sound derogatory …as if you’re being attacked. Yet that same feedback a couple days later would have made all the difference.
Being able to say no to feedback can be key in maintaining a positive relationship. Another element is the timing of the feedback. Is it too soon, do you have low energy or are you just having an off day?
It’s advisable to let the person know when you would like to receive the feedback.
The next time you are in a situation when someone says “May I give you some feedback?” and you are not in the right place to receive it at that time, I recommend that you use this approach:
“May I give you some feedback?”
“Thank you, but not at the moment. Can you give it to me in a few days’ time on Thursday please?”
“Oh, what I was just going to say was……”
“….No not just at the moment thanks, I’m too close to this at present. It’s important for me to be able hear and absorb your feedback properly, so Thursday at 3 pm would be much better”.
Yes, you will have to be firm with some people. Notice the detail of when and at what time. What tends to happen during the first couple of times you do this is that the person does not remember what they were going to say. This is because they don’t expect to have to come back and provide the feedback at a later date. This will only happen a few times and when they realise that you do value and want the feedback, it’s amazing what well rounded feedback you can receive.
The exception to the rule
You must understand that we are talking about people who give you spontaneous and unsolicited feedback as opposed to planned feedback, e.g. say a yearly performance review. You can’t turn up to your yearly review tired and say “no I am not ready for the feedback” because this has been scheduled to take place.
“But I can’t say no to my boss when he wants to give me feedback”.
Yes you can. Your boss is a human being, yes they are. As long as you are clear and seek out the feedback, 9 times out of 10 it will be fine. You are also creating boundaries for the relationship which shows confidence and build respect.
Importantly, when you do receive and acknowledge justifiable feedback make sure you act on it to bring about self-improvement. This will visibly demonstrate to others that you are prepared be pro-active and make changes to improve. This alone can have quite a valuable impact.
I am a trainer and receive completed feedback forms from participants at the end of a training programme so that I can read them later. When you are a trainer, a teacher or a speaker you are likely to receive a lot of written feedback. If you have just intensively poured out your heart and soul for a full day and completely given your all, I would strongly advise that you do not read the feedback for at least 48 hours after the event as you will be better placed to consider and appreciate what has been said. If you do read them on the day and receive a whopping 99% positive feedback, I can assure you that the only thing you will choose to focus on will be the minority 1% of negative feedback.
Authors know this to be true. Max Perkins (1884 – 1947) is still referred to as the most famous literary editor to date and had previously worked with some of the best authors in the world during his time, including Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. Max had a skill in maintaining friendships even with Thomas Wolfe who was known as a difficult author who would write uncontrollably and be unwilling to cut pages or lines. Max knew that timing was important and would often wait 3 weeks or longer before giving him the feedback he needed. Even world class authors need feedback ……when the time is right.
In summary, we now know the importance of feedback, that the timing of feedback is key to our growth and that it is ok to say “No thank you, not at the moment”.
By taking control of when you want to receive feedback and being able to say no means that your life and career will begin to soar – this is because when you are in the right place to truly hear that feedback, you will grow.
I would love to hear your feedback on how we can: serve you better with these articles; how these articles may have impacted on you and your life experiences and of course the rich content of the training courses we offer. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ….. yes, I am ready to hear it (hey, comedy is also all about timing…..)