Even the savviest and most successful entrepreneurs don’t get it right the first time. Every business owner goes through trial and error.
So, here’s my question – how good are you at supporting someone through that process? Are you skilled and practiced at giving and receiving feedback? Do you take pride in being a trusted truth teller?
If we don’t know we can’t grow. It’s not a bumper sticker it’s the truth when it comes to personal and professional growth. Yet sometimes as small business owners we operate in a vacuum and lose sight of the importance of giving and receiving feedback.
Speaking as one business woman to the next, I think we’ve also lost sight of the importance of heart to heart conversations. The kind of conversations that allow us to offer feedback with compassion, kindness and the best intentions, and the kind of conversations we have with ourselves that enable us to receive feedback without being defensive, dismissive or angry.
As a business owner with more than 20 years of experience, I’ve established a network of trusted truth tellers I count on to provide perspective and feedback. I’ve also developed best practices in both receiving the feedback provided and when I offer feedback as a truth teller.
Best practices in giving feedback
Here’s what I know to be true - being a truth teller doesn’t give you license to be ruthless in your criticisms or assessments. In fact, you need to ask for permission to share your observations and prepare the recipient for the conversation.
Ask if the person is open to feedback and communicate the context and intention behind your feedback. If you are invited to share more, be mindful of how you deliver information. Your words have power to make a profound and permanent impact. You can probably think of a time you received feedback that put you on your heels or stirred up considerable doubt. Avoid causing that reaction in others by choosing your words carefully.
Best practices in receiving feedback
The same set of parameters apply when you’re on the receiving end of feedback from a trusted truth teller. Recognize the person delivering the information had your best interest in mind, even if that information wasn’t laid out or said in the way we would prefer.
Treat information as information. You don’t have to take action. Use it as a point of curiosity instead of a reason to get defensive and recognize there’s a reason it’s being brought to your attention. Lastly, be kind to yourself and the way you process the information. Comments from trusted truth-tellers aren’t meant to be disparaging, so don’t allow yourself to think disparaging thoughts about your business or your ability to run your business when processing their feedback.
Truth telling is a lesson in courage
Giving and receiving feedback is not only essential to your personal and professional growth, it’s a test of your bravery. It takes great courage to give feedback, to be a truth teller and to receive feedback.
Assume the responsibility of that task, practice those skills and take pride being a trusted truth teller that encourages businesses to grow and prosper.
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