Is This The Toughest Question to Ask?


I gave a talk recently and asked a couple of friends to watch the video and give me  feedback. One friend had suggestions for how I could make cleaner transitions and which points felt like they deserved more words. ("Don't be in such a hurry!")

Another friend gave me a thumbs up for the content, but also noted, "When you speak, sometimes you do this 'head swooshing the hair' thing which is kind of distracting."

Another friend watched the video and suggested I wear more powdered foundation so my face wouldn't look greasy.

All righty, then... that's no fun.

I don't know what I was expecting.  When it comes to my performance,  I usually enjoy ignorance more than input.

If feedback is a gift, why can't I return what I don't like? Aha!  There's the rub! I don't REALLY want feedback.

However, my better self knows input is THE primary path for improvement. Growing isn't particularly fun, but if I'm not growing, I'm dying.

Do you feel that way too?

Asking for feedback doesn't come naturally (who are we kidding???);  it's ALWAYS a discipline.

However, the discipline is easier if you don't WAIT for feedback to come your way, but if you decide to go out of your way to ask for it.

Think about it - when you solicit someone's thoughts, not only are they more likely to give you the truth, you're more open to hearing it.  The input I received on my talks wasn't from random people, but friends who want the best for me, who are invested in my growth.

In asking for their feedback, I'm acknowledging the proverb that, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted..."

I know my friends aren't criticizing to create awkwardness, they are doing so to stretch me and help me grow.

The same can be true in your work environment too.  Sure, maybe you work with Mr. or Ms. Negative, but try not to assume the worst motives.  Instead, imagine the best in people, put on your big girl (or boy) pants and ask for feedback.

My friend Clay taught me the most succinct way to phrase the question.

Ready?  Here it is:

If you were me, what would you do differently?

Say it out loud.

Do you notice the way it rhymes?  (kinda)

When's the last time you asked for feedback on your product or your leadership style?  Have you ever had anyone evaluate how well you run meetings or whether or not your emails are helpful?  Have you ever asked anyone if there's anything in your mannerisms that is distracting or off-putting?  Has anyone ever reviewed your presentation in advance with the intent of ripping it apart? (This is super fun uh helpful)

Do you want to know?

Maybe you don't, and that's fine, but understand that if you can't ever muster the courage to ask the tough question, you'll miss out on learning from the input.

When you create a feedback-rich environment, you also create tremendous growth opportunities.

Edit, adjust, and try the question out in as many different ways as possible.

Now, about this post - I'd love to hear your thoughts on how I did.  Would you mind telling me what you would do differently?