Which question would you be more likely to answer honestly? "Is there anything I could done better?" or "What could I have done better?"
Probably the second. The first one sort of dares you to say there was something I could have done better and also makes it really easy for you to just say "Nope, everything was great." The second one invites you to share with the assumption there was definitely something I could have done better.
Which question would provide me with valuable feedback I could use to improve? Definitely the second. Not only because it makes you more comfortable to share, but also because it puts me in the mindset that I'm inviting you to help me improve.
As I've written about receiving feedback and giving the gift of feedback over the last week, I realized while I've received some really valuable unsolicited feedback, some of the best insight I've received was when I asked for it. At the end of a recent speech I gave to a large group of gifted students, the teacher I was working with gave me warm compliments about how well it went. But when I asked her what suggestions she'd have to improve the speech, she shared it would have been valuable to have music playing at the beginning and at different times. And she suggested giving the microphone to the person sharing an example so everyone could hear.
Upon hearing that feedback, I had a choice. I could defend why I didn't play music or pass around the microphone. I could feel sad or frustrated that there were things I didn't do as well as I could have. Or I could say, "Thanks for the suggestions."
I went with the last option. Those insights will help me as I prepare for future programs. And here's the thing. That teacher sharing the opportunities for improvement didn't at all take away from my overall feeling that the program went well and was valuable. Because I had the right mindset when I received the feedback, I was able to appreciate it for the gift it was.
Want to get better? Willing to hear the truth? Ready to make a change? Request feedback.
Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash