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Stop asking for FEEDBACK—Ask for ADVICE

Michael Clegg | 01/10/2024

Feedback is a powerful tool that can help us learn and grow, but sometimes giving and receiving feedback is easier said than done. 

It’s hard to dissociate the emotional charge behind feedback.  

By nature, we don’t like to be wrong. While feedback is important to give and receive, it usually puts your mind in a place of vulnerability. 

Don’t get me wrong, being vulnerable is critical, especially as a leader, but when you feel like you’re too emotionally tied to something that you’d like feedback on, don’t ask for feedback.  

 Ask for ADVICE instead. 

Asking for advice will change the intent. Rather than coming from that place of vulnerability, you are coming from a place of growth. 

This vulnerable feeling is something that has been rooted deep down in each of us, dating back to when we were kids in grade school. 

Source: Simbi

Who remembers turning in a writing assignment that you felt you did well on, only to see it slashed all over with that red pen? 

Or maybe you were really proud of a painting that you made for your art class, only to hear from your art teacher that it looked more ‘abstract’ (in the nicest way possible) than realistic? 

It hurts.  We weren’t properly taught to receive feedback, so our minds began to train themselves to associate feedback with this negative feeling. We subconsciously fear receiving negative feedback because it can hurt our ego. 

As we move into adulthood and our careers, feedback becomes a larger part of our lives as it contributes to our growth and professional development, but that doesn’t make it any easier. 

While we can retrain our brains to dissociate this feeling, sometimes it comes back up and can feel defeating.  

Think about a time when you asked someone for advice. That person was probably someone you viewed as having more knowledge and expertise about the subject, at the very minimum. You were also probably asking that person for advice in an area you were genuinely interested in improving in. 

Now think about the last person you asked for feedback from. Probably a colleague or manager, right? It was probably about something work-related. That didn’t come from a growth-mindset. 

Leaders can sometimes find themselves hitting a ceiling. They either think that they know all the answers or that they should have all the answers, which can lead to serious stagnation in growth. You were promoted or hired into your role for a reason, whether it be your expertise in the industry or your management skills. This either boosted your ego or boosted your drive to try to have all the answers for the sake of your team. You feel like you’re on top. That’s how your team views you, whether you are ready for it or not, so you need to play the part. 

As a leader, it is critical to take a step back and put yourself back into a mindset of growth. Ask for feedback from your employees. Most importantly, make it an expectation that your team shares feedback with you.  

If this feels like a tough task in the beginning, ask for advice. This will help put you back into a mindset of growth and continuous improvement. 

Here’s an example:  

You’re trying to make a hard decision that could change the company dynamics. You don’t want to have to make this decision because you fear the unknown. If this decision doesn’t have any confidential information tied to it, share it with your team, or share it with one or two of your direct reports. Ask them what they would do if they were in your shoes and why.  

Not only will this put you back in a state of learning and growth, but it will foster a deeper connection with your team.  

When was the last time you asked for advice? 

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