By now, you should know that good feedback is an invaluable tool. In an ideal world, everyone would have a mentor with the brains and the communication skills to quickly and painlessly provide constructive criticism that launches you forward. However, in the real world, relationships like this aren’t easy to find or maintain. It can be tough to find the right people to ask for advice and criticism. Thus, it is particularly important to set your mentor or partner up to give you the type of feedback that is helpful. How you approach your meetings with someone who is giving you feedback plays a large role in determining what type of feedback you get.
Here are four tips for getting constructive feedback from almost anyone:
1. Be honest. Don’t sugarcoat your situation. If your information is inaccurate, you will never get helpful feedback. On the other hand, don’t exaggerate your problems, either. When you do this to a wise person, you’ll likely get sympathy and a dose of reality, not suggestions or observations that help you.
2. Be proactive. It’s important to go for what you want. Before you meet, jot down what your top 3 concerns are. Then make it a point to ask about those issues. Often, this is the best way to get a meeting started, as bringing up your concerns can give whomever you’re getting feedback from an idea of what type of feedback you’re looking for.
3. Be open-minded. Often, the best feedback is unexpected. If whomever you’re talking to brings up issues that you hadn’t thought about, listen. Let him or her know that you are truly looking for a critical eye. Then be true to your word, and don’t become defensive or belligerent when faced with hard-hitting observations.
4. Be appreciative. A fresh set of eyes is a great resource. Be grateful for people in your life who are willing to take time and invest in you.
If you want great feedback, you have to put in the time and effort to get it.