MIC CHECK, 1-2, 1-2

How do you lend an ear?


What’s your take on critical feedback? Are you willing to listen to outside observations, or are you more of the “OPINIONS GO HERE” sign over the trash type? Hint: one of these archetypes will always do better than the other.

When it comes down to the fundamentals, there are a few ways of responding to criticism. You could be an internalizer; the kind of person who listens keenly when someone critiques your actions or technique, but continues to beat themselves up over it, letting your past mistakes eat you up instead of learning from them and striving to do better.

Or perhaps you resonate with the ‘self-convincer’, who quite similarly takes feedback very personally but, instead of beating themselves up over it, deflects that disappointement elsewhere; think, onto your employees and family. Certainly not a productive or happy situation for anyone involved. You expect accountability from your employees; don’t you expect the same from yourself?

Another less-than-ideal listening type: the defender. The defender comes in many frequencies; they could be slightly defensive in the face of critical feedback, or downright explosive. They often default to the belief that their critic is simply misguided and could never understand; but, “it’s always been that way. You’re not going to change it,” is not a productive sentiment.

Finally, there is the feedback seeker, from which branch many other listening styles. Feedback seekers are always on the hunt for ways they can improve their operations, enlighten their mindsets and ultimately make their business a better place to be for customers and employees alike. These listeners simply want to know what their team thinks they should do and why they think they should do it.

The most simple yet overlooked aspect of listening is the failure to realize that not all criticism is an attack. The customer pointing out a pinhole on their paint job is not trying to threaten the livelihood of your business, nor is the employee commenting on feeling overwhelmed by their workload. Believe it or not, just like you, they are trying to be heard.

And, well, if you’re not willing to listen, you better be penning that exit strategy.

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