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Don't Get Mad, Get Curious!

A few weeks ago, an unexpected set of feedback came to my attention. Honestly, I felt a bit blindsided. I won’t into the details, but I had an iceberg moment. Perhaps you’ve had one of these. On the surface, I was calm and collected, but below the surface, the image would have been completely the opposite. I was frustrated and upset. The reality was, I probably wasn’t in the right mindset to hear it.

If you’ve read this blog, or you and I have spoken, you likely know that feedback is a huge area of interest for me. LSA regularly seeks it out, and I value it, coaching others to seek and use feedback meaningfully. In this instance, however, I was not modeling my core convictions around feedback. It happens.

Fast forward to this morning.

Today, LSA sponsored, thanks in large part to a grant from the Metro-New York Synod’s (ELCA) Wider Church Fund, a Leaders Conference titled, “Effective Performance Management: How to Get the Best from Your Team”, led by Mindy Stern.

During one exercise centered on goal-setting, a leader asked, “should we solicit feedback from our teams in making our own goals as administrators?”

It reminded me of a podcast that I have been loving lately: Radical Candor. (Think 20 minute episodes with stories, tips, and insights, ready to be used.) Episodes on asking for and giving feedback speak directly to the value of soliciting feedback as a leader. So, in short, yes! Engage the team in providing some feedback.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

After a particularly trying time on the Cross Island Parkway, I turned to my podcast feed, and realized I had missed an episode: #16, appropriately titled “Take Feedback Like a Boss”. Perfect. Given my recent iceberg moment, and the conversation of the morning, this was exactly what I needed to hear.

You’ll need to give it a full listen, but my major take-away (and perhaps what made you even click here) is the title of this post, “Don’t get mad, get curious”.

My new feedback mantra.

You see, in that feedback moment, I defaulted to “mad”. I disagreed with portions of the feedback and my defenses went up (I really hope I kept them under wraps), but, per this episode, I’m planning to look for the nuggets of truth and value in future feedback. As a human, I know that I’ll encounter it again. Don’t get mad, get curious.

Practically, what will this look like?

  1. Don’t feel pressured to have a response at the ready. I don’t know where this comes from, but I have always felt the need to have a declarative response as the recipient of feedback. Not an excuse, but a response. I plan to honor my own need to process, or...
  2. Ask questions. I value feedback. I really do. But, sometimes, it’s unclear, comes at a terrible time, or isn’t useful. For me, getting curious involves asking questions, and helping ensure that the 7 Keys to Effective Feedback are present.

Back to that first iceberg moment? I’ve found the pieces of the feedback that I plan to use, and I already have followed up. Boom! Taking feedback like a boss.

How have you taken feedback “like a boss” lately? Share your stories and advice! I’d love to hear from you.


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