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How to Get Great Feedback

You’re working on your executive presence. You’re speaking up in meetings, delivering concise points, adding constructively to the discussion. But is it working? You know you’re putting in a lot of effort; but you don’t know if it’s having the desired effect.

How do you get honest feedback from a colleague?

Here’s your simple how-to:

  1. Make your request before the meeting. Then your colleague is on alert, paying attention for you.

  2. Describe it in behavioural terms. ‘Tell me how I come across’ is too general, and you’ll only get general comments back like ‘you were great’. Instead, ask this colleague to observe one behaviour – your gestures, voice or word choice, for example.

  3. Be specific. Tell her what, exactly you want feedback on. Instead of ‘How’s my voice?’, say ‘I’m trying to project my voice better. Will you sit at the opposite end of the table and tell me if you heard me clearly?’

For your colleague, this is a job. You’ve given her a small, specific task she can measure. Could she, or could she not, hear you at the other end of the table? Easy.

Here are some other examples of asking for behavioural feedback in a specific way:

  • I’m trying to sit up straighter during the whole meeting. Would you keep an eye on me? If I slump, I want to know about it.

  • I’m not sure how I use my hands once I start talking. Would you watch me and take note? Am I gesturing… a lot or a little, high or low, sharp edges or rounded ones?

  • Would you listen to the way I describe the project and tell me if I’m giving the right level of detail?

  • If Ed disagrees with me about the budget, would you listen to my tone and tell me if it changes? I’m trying to manage my tone in stressful situations.

That’s it. Ask before the meeting; use behavioural terms; and be specific.

Then listen extremely well to the rich information you will receive.

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