When establishing and maintaining an environment of honor, I am not only responsible to give good feedback and engage others with effective confrontation—I must also be approachable to receive feedback.
One of the most memorable confrontations I’ve ever had was with my friends, Dann Farrelly and Paul Manwaring. One afternoon, I came to my office to find Dann and Paul waiting for me.
I didn’t know we were having a meeting, I thought.
Then Dann got up and shut the door. Without preamble, he said, “We were wondering if you have some anger or bitterness toward Kris (Vallotton). The exchange between you two today at lunch really scared us. We’ve seen you get disconnected before and it would be very painful for us if that happened.”
I took a moment to consider this feedback. Then I said, “I’m so sorry that we made you feel scared. I don’t think I am harboring anything against Kris. Let me go check with him and see if we have something to clean up.”
I left Dann and Paul in my office, tracked Kris down, and asked, “Hey, did you feel that our exchange at lunch today was disrespectful or dishonoring?”
He replied, “No, I just thought we were having a good conversation.”
“Me too,” I said. “But I guess we scared a couple people. I’ll go take care of that.”
I returned to my office, told Dann and Paul what Kris had said, thanked them for their feedback, and asked them what they needed from me moving forward. They told me I had relieved their anxiety, and thanked me for adjusting to help them feel safe and protected.
It could have been all too easy to disregard Dann and Paul’s concern or get defensive about how they were perceiving my interactions with Kris, but doing so would have only eroded our relationships. By listening and adjusting to their feedback, I actually strengthened our relationships.
When you are receiving feedback, here are some keys to responding well and sending the clear signal that you are willing to make adjustments:
1. Lower anxiety by remaining calm with a spirit of gentleness and humility.
2. Ask questions to understand more about what the other person might be experiencing and what they need from you.
3. Follow through with action steps to resolve any conflicts or clean up any messes you might have made.
4. Keep your heart from judgment if the situation is complicated and doesn’t work out easily on the first try. Keep your love on.
This exchange of feedback within the context of loving relationship can only happen when we are courageous and responsible (able to respond). It’s our job to create a safe place for the other person giving us feedback. We must set the tone of our relationships by leading in the attitudes and actions we desire to cultivate.
How have you developed the practice of receiving good feedback from others in your life?