Ask These Questions To Get Honest Feedback

How many times do you ask for feedback only to hear, “Everything is (or was) fine!” or “all is (or was) great!” And we all love to hear positive feedback, but most of the time it is so positive and general that it does not help us to get better. And sometimes we even begin thinking, “Are they really giving me honest feedback, or are they just giving me general compliments to be nice?”

I remember years ago when I was in Toastmasters, which is a public speaking organization, one of the very talented members of our club said to me, “I don’t want you to just tell me what a great speaker I am. That is not going to make me better. I want to hear feedback that will make me better.”

There is one phrase you can use with questions when seeking feedback that will help result in more specific, honest answers that will help you to get better:

Ask “What is one thing that….

I can do more of?”

I should do less of?”

you would like to see me change/do differently?”

That magic phrase “what is one thing” coupled with those questions can be successful for the following two reasons:

1. These questions relay to the other person that you are not merely seeking compliments. They give permission for the other person to give you honest feedback.

2. It is easier for people to think of “one thing” than give overall general feedback.Their minds are able to grasp it!

If you are asking these questions verbally, you will want to remember the timing of how to ask this question, as more reserved people are inward processors, and need time to think about their answers, while outgoing people can come up with an answer quickly.

Lastly, be mindful of your response to their answers. Ask them questions if you need more clarity such as, “can you give me an example” or “tell me more about that.” You may be surprised at their responses, and if you are accustomed to always getting positive feedback, it can feel disconcerting to hear something less than positive. But remind yourself that your goal is to get better. Therefore, whatever feedback they give, do not respond with excuses or defensiveness. Rather, show that you are interested and intently listening to their answers, and thank them for thinking into specific feedback you can use to develop and improve your craft.

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