Gain The Feedback You Need

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Last week I sat down with a few students to give me their feedback regarding their thoughts on the year so far.  For the most part it was positive, the students were affirming my thoughts and so I was feeling pretty good.  But, then I started to feel like they were holding something back, self doubt came into play, and I asked them, “Do you all have any suggestion on what we could do to improve?
The responses were no where near harsh; however, it did have me question some of the decisions I had made and were in the processes of making.  At this moment I felt like I had three choices:

  • I could have ignored their comments.
  • I could have gotten defensive and justified my decisions.
  • I could have changed everything that they suggested.

But, then again are those my only choices?  No, but there is a part of us that goes to the extremes, when instead we should Discern The Moment.
When receiving unexpected (or sometimes expected) feedback our tendency is to group every comment together and address it all at once.  The problem with that approach is that we may miss a piece of truth that can change our ministry.  So when you receive feedback, make sure you:

  • Listen: If you are like me you need to eliminate all distractions and just focus on the words of the individual so you don’t miss anything.  You also want to listen to tone of voice and observe body language.
  • Address The Push Back: Internally you might feel resentment, reluctance or plain discomfort with what you are hearing.  Before you react, just ask yourself, “Where are these feelings coming from?”
  • Track It: Whether you write down the comments or you record, make sure you have the feedback down for later review.
  • Give It Time: Don’t disregard an idea because it made you uncomfortable.  Reflect on it for a day or two and share it with someone you trust.  
  • Acknowledge Their Feedback: Someone just gave you their time to help your ministry grow.  You might not like their perspective; however, you gave them permission to speak.  Thank them.

Feedback can lead us to some vulnerable moments.  No matter who the critique comes from we need to make sure we do our best to process and discern the results.  If a comment is made that hits you hard, you want to make sure you don’t forget the rest.  Again, when asking for feedback you are telling someone, “I trust you to give me the truth.”  When you can do that you can separate the feedback that helps from the critiques that are irrelevant.

How do you gain feedback from others?