Using feedback critical to growth

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Bruce Zahn
  • Command Chief, 97th Operations Group
What happens when we hear someone say they would like to give us feedback? Our first reaction may cause us to think something was done wrong, when in reality, our leaders, co-workers or friends are just trying to help us improve. Many of us have a negative attitude, feeling insulted, offended, angry, nervous or defensive. The reality is the feedback we receive every day is meant to be either positive or negative, reinforcing positive behaviors and actions or for correcting deficiencies. You may feel uncomfortable receiving feedback, but eliminating personal barriers that block the constructive criticism is how we can eventually accept feedback. Here are a few suggestions to help become a better receiver of such feedbacks.

When we receive feedback, we need to give the individual our undivided attention so we understand what message the sender is trying to pass to us. We should also give the individual every chance to fully explain their ideas or thoughts without interrupting. One of the often-neglected key points is to ensure you understand and get the whole story before you respond too quickly and interrupt the sender's message. We must be open to our commanders, co-workers, friends or spouses' inputs. This is proof that we are striving to always become a better leader, friend, employee or spouse. As each of us receives feedback, all we have to do is make a mental note and address it when we get an opportunity to speak. We must let the individual giving the feedback complete their thoughts so we can understand where they are coming from.

Although there are other key points, the closing highlight of the whole feedback process is to do something with the information we receive. You may ask yourself, "So what?" or "Who cares?" But if we are truly striving to improve ourselves, we must make sure that the initiatives are taken to apply the suggested improvements. This will help us be better individuals by doing better at our jobs and preventing us from making the same mistakes again.

The next time you receive some constructive feedback, be honest with yourself and try to apply the feedback in your everyday life to make you a better leader, friend, employee or spouse.