Asking for feedback is hard.
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, your position in the company nor how skilled you are. It’s scary.
We all sweat when we solicit and receive feedback.
So, how do you reduce your feedback anxiety? Proactively request feedback and use the S.E.E. framework.
When you ask for feedback, you put yourself in a psychological state that is ready to receive negative news. This is important because unsolicited feedback can activate the social threat response. If you feel threatened, you won’t be ready to receive, retain, or agree with the feedback you receive. When you solicit feedback, you minimize this threat response. You also have more autonomy and certainty when you ask for feedback because you focus the conversation where it will be the most useful for you. The person you’ve requested it from also benefits because you have given clear guidelines on the specific feedback you want.
Now, how do you ask for feedback? Let’s look at two scenarios.
Situation 1: Makayla goes to her boss, Elizabeth, to ask what Elizabeth thinks of her performance. Elizabeth tells her that she does a good job but could perhaps be more creative.
Situation 2: Makayla goes to her boss, Elizabeth, to request that Elizabeth provide feedback on her presentation style. She specifically asked Elizabeth to note when she did not hear or understand the bottom line or her central point within the first three sentences of a presentation and to tell her at what point she did hear this information. Elizabeth did this for a few weeks and was able to provide Makayla with useful feedback on how to improve her communication and presentation style.
In the first example, Makayla asked a vague question and Elizabeth gave nebulous feedback in response. In the second example, Makayla was explicit about what she wanted which allowed Elizabeth to be specific with her feedback. Makayla used the S.E.E. framework.
This is how the S.E.E. framework works:
- Be Specific
- Share an Example
In the second situation, Makayla was specific when she asked for feedback -“when [Elizabeth] did not hear or understand the bottom line or [Makayla’s] central point within the first three sentences of a presentation.” She shared an example of the form in which she wanted to get feedback by asking Elizabeth, “to tell her at what point she did hear this information.” Her entire request served as an explanation of the type of feedback she wanted to receive.
Use the S.E.E. framework to receive actionable, specific feedback so you can recognize and enhance your abilities at work.
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Carson serves as a consultant to executives at Fortune 500 companies. The author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, and the upcoming Own It. Love It. Make It Work: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job, her views have been included in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review blog, and The New York Times.