Postpone Disagreement About Feedback
We often disagree with the feedback others give us. After all, they aren't in our shoes. They don’t know what we know. It’s only natural to stand our ground and resist — even when we realize our own knee-jerk reactions and pushback can rob us of the ability to understand our performance more deeply and gain key insights for improvement.
Making things worse, the more we think others are wrong, the greater the likelihood of quick disagreement. This can make us appear defensive, dogmatic, stubborn, or all three.
This is especially true when we receive feedback from leaders and experts. Leaders can never share your direct experience, or have all of the facts about your performance. But the very role of leadership seems to require they create a view about your performance and share thoughts on how you should improve.
Often, we take issue with the criticism. Expressing our disagreement is both natural and necessary. The only question is when to register the opposition.
In addition to appearing defensive and closed-minded, as leaders we must recognize that it is exceedingly hard to convince others we can deliver critical feedback if we can’t take it ourselves. That is why it is sound policy to postpone disagreement to feedback whenever we can.
The best leaders commonly ask clarifying questions and suggest they would like to take the time to consider the feedback offered and discuss it after reflection. The delay between receiving the criticism and expressing disagreement might be hours or days, but it is not right now.
It is important for everyone to decide which feedback to accept, which to disregard, and even when we might argue about it. By postponing our reaction to feedback we view inaccurate or misinformed, we give ourselves the time to evaluate the information more objectively. When we do decide to express our disagreement, we can do so strongly, without the fear of being viewed as defensive or resistant.
The absolute accuracy of the feedback others offer us is commonly suspect for those who are self-aware and strive for excellence. When we postpone disagreement and instead explore exactly what others are telling us, we project a confident and reasonable persona. Postponing disagreement about feedback is not only smart, it’s necessary.