Feedback Requires Courage From Both Giver And Receiver

Post It Note: Improvement

I recently accepted an invitation to meet with the CMO of an Internet analytics firm for a briefing and demo of her company’s flagship dashboard product. It was interesting, but the demo and presentation flow had flaws that overshadowed promising aspects of the product. I immediately started providing feedback, including some unexpected and blunt criticism.

I emailed her back later that day and thanked her for sharing her product and company story, and underscored my feedback was offered with only the best intentions (to help). She quickly replied that my comments were valuable and to the point, and they surfaced shortcomings that were preventing her team from realizing their vision. And then she asked if she could follow up with me during her next New York trip to provide an update and collect more feedback. I enthusiastically replied “of course!”

I can be a tough critic, so I admire this CMO for her thick skin and receptivity to my unvarnished response. It opened the door for rapid improvement and ongoing collaboration. It’s important to remember that constructive feedback is a gift, even if abrasive. And exchanging it usually takes courage from both the giver and the receiver. And any hesitance on one side can ruin it for both.

Too often people don’t provide honest feedback because they’re worried the person receiving it will react defensively. Worse, they don’t provide feedback because they’re afraid the person receiving it will be offended. Those are bad outcomes.

In my case, I’m satisfied we achieved the optimal outcome.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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  1. Good post, it helps to inspire people not to be afraid of providing constructive criticism if given permission, and how to react to that criticism.

    Maybe its because I'm a blogger but often criticism is seen as being negative, when really it is an effort to help and empower people.

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