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Feedback is our Mutual Friend

Smart, Savvy + Associates’ “Feedback is my Friend” November Leader Lounge was full of insights, a-ha’s, and a tiny kick to the posterior to stop putting off the conversations we all need to have today!

Feedback is generally considered to be an awkward thing, and it often comes with a negative connotation. Which can mean a few different things:

  • We avoid giving feedback under the guise of “waiting for the right time” and end up making things more uncomfortable due to silence or the gap between an event and the feedback
  • Feedback isn’t given nearly often enough to point out the good things that others do, in a specific manner that encourages more of that positive behaviour or activity
  • Past experience with poorly delivered feedback can shut down our willingness to accept constructive observations or even positive recognition

Take-charge listening skills

Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone are authors of Thanks for the Feedback, which provided inspiration for this Leader Lounge. They encourage us to get good at receiving feedback, and helping others to not only receive it well, but to seek it out. Why? It doesn’t matter if feedback is positive or negative, delivered without consideration or wrapped up with a bow – if the receiver isn’t open to hearing the message, the point is moot.

“Accepting feedback is balancing the need to learn and grown with the need to be accepted and respected for who we are now.” – Peter Reek

When asking for feedback and taking action on it become the norm, the awkwardness will fade (at least a little bit). Consider an athlete and a coach – the act of asking for feedback on skills is part of the relationship, and expected. The feedback isn’t considered to be criticism, it’s part of learning and development. And it’s not all negative – “Yes, that’s it! Let’s do it a few more times that way” – pointing out the good is equally important.

“Showing your appreciation still provides a learning opportunity. It says ‘I see you. I get you. I appreciate you.’” – Catherine Ducharme

Ask for it!

Building a culture of giving and getting feedback openly and without fear of repercussion starts with you: get, give, and encourage both praise and criticism. Here are some questions to get the feedback flowing:

  • What’s the one thing I can do to become a better leader?
  • What would you like to see me do more of or do less off?
  • Is there anything I could do or stop doing that would make your life (work experience) better?
  • What do you see me doing or failing to do that is getting in my own way?
  • What have you observed me doing well that I should continue?
  • What are my biggest opportunities to improve that you think could make a real difference?

Feedback skills need some polishing? If you - or your whole team - would benefit from some support in both giving and receiving feedback, contact us! Smart Savvy Academy offers a full-day workshop on Feedback and its role in fueling a culture of growth. 



Peter Reek is the Founder and President of Smart, Savvy + Associates. We find high-calibre marketing, communications, creative and sales professionals with proven track records and in-demand skills for companies who need them, across the Pacific Northwest and in Toronto. We also provide leadership development, skills workshops, and coaching services for workplace programs, corporate retreats and individual growth opportunities. Contact Peter to discuss your organization's training needs.


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