Feedback is a gift. It is an opportunity for personal development and ultimately leadership development. And, it is hard; Very hard.

Not sure which is harder, giving feedback or accepting it. Recently I was with a small group of Vistage Chairs, several of us long tenured, and we were discussing this very topic. In fact, we spent a couple of hours working with each other to improve our skills at both. I mention long tenured, as a reminder to myself, that no matter how skilled we think we are at this, it is hard, and requires constant practice.

Here are the reminders I heard…

When giving feedback:

  • You can earn trust with truthful, specific, positive feedback (TSP as speaker, Michael Allosso, calls it)
  • When giving constructive feedback, ask first if the receiver is open to feedback
  • Even better, wait until the feedback is asked for
  • Own your experience, share feelings and observations; be specific
  • Use neutral language e.g., my experience of you… or When you do…, I feel…
  • Remember the purpose of feedback is to share your experience of another person, not to “fix” the other person

When receiving feedback, remember it is a gift

  • Ask for feedback, and be specific about the purpose, e.g., I want to become more effective at…
  • Listen and digest
  • Try not to defend or respond except to simply say, thank you.

Why Vistage Works

Elisa K. Spain


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