Why you won’t get the feedback you asked for (and how to get it)

By now you’ve probably heard already a thousand times how important feedback is, and it is. Many of us have the tendency to rely solely on our own impression to determine how things are going. We think about how we felt when that meeting ended and if we felt good about it then surely it went well. Same thing with our relationships at home and at work.

The only problem is that in many cases that impression is entirely wrong and we’re delusional about how people feel about us. Many managers and leaders for example think they’re loved by their teams. Why not after all, they laugh at their jokes, they often agree to their point of view. That definitely sounds like a thriving relationship but at the same time we’ve all been sitting at least once in front of that person thinking that those jokes are not so funny or that we won’t take a chance with our career over something that this manager or leader clearly won’t listen to.

to get feedback, the last thing you want to do is to ask for it

At the same time, many people in positions of authority ask for feedback but doing so is not a guarantee of receiving transparent and constructive criticism. Many people are simply afraid to take a risk in the workplace if they don’t believe their boss is ready to hear that feedback. In fact to get feedback, the last thing you want to do is to ask for it. You can ask for it, you just won’t get it.

Instead you have to develop an environment where there is enough trust that people can be transparent with you while feeling they are in a safe place. To do so here’s what you can do:

Banter with the people you want feedback from

if you want people to feel comfortable criticizing constructively you need to bring them to a place where they feel at ease pushing your boundaries. When joking and bantering with those people they get used to crossing slightly the line and learn to see you laugh. That in term helps them realize that when they’ll deliver feedback you’ll take it well and won’t hold it against them.

Be ready for a bad delivery

people are generally not trained at delivering feedback and so they might not deliver it in a nice way. That’s OK, if you want that feedback you need to accept that both of you could feel awkward due to a poor selection of words and to be ready to step back and extract the constructive part of that feedback and learn something from the conversation.

Choose your words wisely

carefully chose the words you use to invite them to share their view and even more so if you are their leader. Don’t finish your proposal with “does it make sense?” no one’s going to tell you your plan does not make sense instead, invite them to share their opinion. Say something like “what other scenario could we consider to reach our goal?”. That way, people don’t feel that it’s either your idea or theirs but rather that you want a set of scenarios to work with. It’s a much less confrontational way to have them voice their opinion.

In fact, those are only 3 of the 8 ways that I use to get people to share their honest opinion with you. You can download them here on my blog, it’s a 1-page PDF.

As usual I like to share a short video from a LinkedIn Learning course and this time I’ve selected one about an important element of feedback which is to uncover your blind spots. It’s taken from Gemma Leigh Roberts’s course called Giving and Receiving Feedback


What’s your experience with feedback? Do you know someone who’s really good at it? Or someone who’s got a lot to improve? Don’t share their name here 😉 but share with us your story…

Connect with me and receive my monthly newsletter

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *