Do not judge a word by its sound

After their performance, the musicians gathered to listen to their teacher as he read out the judge’s comments.  Upon hearing that their performance was lackadaisical, they were ecstatic, giving each other high-fives and exchanging smiles and nods. The jubilation died down fast when the teacher, baffled by their reaction to the feedback, explained the meaning of the word lackadaisical.

Based on the nature of their work, some people receive more feedback than others do, both solicited and unsolicited. Sometimes we invite feedback because we want to know what people think, whether we are making the impact we want, and how we can improve our game. Sometimes we just want to hear that we are doing well. Sometimes, feedback comes in the form of outright criticism, a backhanded compliment, or silence.

Should we react or respond to all the feedback we receive? I will answer that with a quote attributed to Winston Churchill:

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

Determine what to pay attention to and be grateful that you are getting feedback. Here are 3Rs I like to apply when evaluating feedback. I hope you find them useful.

🔹Resist the temptation to judge a word by its sound. Sure – the word lackadaisical may sound musical, and terrific may have a terrifying feel to it, but do not let that fool or even worry you. If the feedback you have received is not clear but you think it is worth listening to, seek clarity from the person giving the feedback and if possible, ask them to be specific. Bear in mind that some feedback might be clouded by the giver’s own perspectives, or worse – opinions.

🔹Reflect on the feedback and ask yourself whether the impact or outcome you got from the action or behavior you applied is consistent with your intent. Stephen Covey said that we judge ourselves based on our intention, and others based on their behavior. We know our intention, others see our behavior;  whether people are willing to go beyond the behavior and seek to understand our intention, or whether it is even appropriate or possible to demonstrate our intention are different things altogether. We must be willing to make the connection for ourselves so we can identify any congruence gaps. I have observed that one of the most powerful segments of the self-discovery coaching sessions with my clients is the Intention-Behaviour-Impact (IBI) reflection.  The Life Orientations (LIFO®) assessment provides feedback that helps people evaluate the congruence between their intention, behavior, and the resulting impact. Congruence in all three means our actions produce the desired results and if there is a high degree of incongruence, it means we need to determine what developmental strategies to employ to shrink the gap.

🔹Respond in the most appropriate way – that is your judgment call, and you can also seek professional advice if the situation calls for it.  Use the feedback as a stepping-stone to your improvement and growth.

Some people deliver feedback well, others do not, but that should not diminish the importance of feedback. Ken Blanchard reckons that feedback is the breakfast of champions. Now, I know the jury is still out on whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but one thing we can’t deny is that a regular dose of feedback, consumed with a generous helping of objectivity, and fuelled by a commitment to do better, will keep complacency at bay.

Have a fabulous day!