One of the hallmark skills of great educators is the ability to give and receive feedback. At CharacterStrong, we think of feedback as the breakfast of champions — it demonstrates humility and courage and gives you critical data to improve yourself and your relationships. We ALL have blindspots - things we don’t know that we don’t know and things we don’t see that we don’t see. But most people don’t help you see those blind spots uninvited! Great leaders actively seek it out. The only rule? When someone is generous enough to give it (it can be a vulnerable process for them, too!), you cannot get defensive. Humility requires us to hear their feedback from their point of view, thank them honestly, ask for clarification if needed, then get to work.
When we take time to actually act on feedback given to us by intentionally working to close the gaps that have been identified in our actions or our character or our relationships, it shows to the people that we’ve asked that:
1) You care enough to truly listen to what they have to say and
2) You care enough about that relationship to honor their feedback with the hard work necessary to improve.
It is a good reminder that the people who give us this feedback don’t expect us to be perfect. In fact, the simple act of asking for feedback usually raises eyebrows (in a good way) because it is the sometimes scary and humbling recognition that you DON’T have it all together. The further act of following through on that feedback, even imperfectly, is evidence to those that you are trying to serve that you WANT to be better. These are healthy things in our relationships.
Finally, if you ever want to be taken seriously when dishing out feedback to those you care about, it certainly helps to have been proactive in asking for it first. The more you ask for it, the more you build the credibility to give it.
You can download our Quantifiable Feedback Form here. This is one of the many ways at CharacterStrong that we use to gather feedback. This specific technique can be used in multiple ways.
1) Give it out to individuals and use it to address your relationship to them. Use it to ask, on a scale of 1-10, how am I doing as a Sibling/Spouse/Friend/Teacher/Co-Worker/Etc.. Then, what are some specific ways I can be more of a 10 in our relationship?
2) Give it out to multiple people and target something you think you might need work on. Use it to ask, on a scale of 1-10, how am I doing as a Listener/Communicator/Planner/Etc.. Then, what are some specific ways I can be more of a 10 in that skill?
The more of these you give out, the less it stings when you get back the good, raw, real stuff. We always say it is better to know - at least then you can DO something to actively make your relationships and your world better.
Let’s get to work!
Houston Kraft is the co-founder of CharacterStrong. He is a professional speaker and kindness advocate who has spoken at over 600 events internationally. Student Body President in High School, Class President at Bowdoin College, Leadership Camp Staff for 14 years in Washington - he is a lifelong learner of character, culture, kindness, and leadership. He was featured in 2019 on BBQ Lays Potato Chips and his mom's lasting life lesson is "Hug like you mean it."