Secrets to Receiving Feedback: Insights for Introverts

Following up on the first part of this story, we’re back with Casey Carpenter, CEO of Speak & Own It Communications, a New York City-area-based consultancy, to discuss the other side of the coin—learning to receive feedback thoughtfully and productively, especially if you’re an introvert boss or other leader. Carpenter is the author of Introverts in Sales: Turn Your Peaceful Power into a Profitable Selling Machine.

NA: What are your favorite tips for introverts when receiving feedback from their bosses?

CC: Oh, I love this question, especially since someone gave me feedback recently and it was done in such an appropriate way! Know that introverts generally don’t like to be taken off guard. If the boss can prepare the person for receiving feedback, it will be more readily accepted. Schedule time to have this important conversation. It’s helpful to also know that an introvert might take corrective feedback quite personally. Let them know that it’s not personal; it’s to have a more productive working environment. Be prepared to lead with a specific example; certainly, no more than two, or it may overwhelm someone who’s experiencing a flood of emotions and is trying to take it all in.

NA: Any suggestions for receiving feedback from your team members and colleagues?

CC: An introvert can “preempt” team-member feedback surprises. At the beginning of a project, they can initiate a discussion about how and when to give each other feedback. One way is to spell it out on a team charter. As such, they might consider giving feedback during scheduled debriefs. If the feedback needs to be more immediate, I recommend that the recipient acknowledge that it is being given to improve the work environment. Use it as a learning opportunity to uplevel. Here is a behavioral approach I’d like to recommend, SALT:

Acknowledge what you heard
Then talk

Create a gap, or moment to absorb the feedback before you speak. Breathe. Then you can more readily take in what your colleague is saying.

NA: How have you seen professionals advance in their career as a result of acting on feedback they’ve received from bosses or other colleagues?

CC: I’ve seen professionals advance from feedback they’ve received as well as from coaching I’ve given. We all have blind spots. No one is perfect, so please don’t strive for perfection. Strive for relatability. We may think we’re acting appropriately until someone lets us know otherwise. We need our colleagues to be our mirrors.

NA: Regardless of who is giving the introverts feedback, what should they do if they disagree with it?

CC: Always say “thank you” first. I like to say, “feedback is a gift.” It is rarely offered if the giver doesn’t care about the other party and the situation. Here, it’s so important to use the SALT model because you may feel emotional if you disagree with the feedback. Your emotions may momentarily hijack your reasoning.

Know that no one is required to adopt every single recommendation in the feedback they get! After listening to the feedback in its entirety, the recipient might add, “I so appreciate your telling me this. I really like your recommendation to do X. That works well due to the nature of this project. I’m not so sure your other suggestion will work for me, and here’s why …” In this way, you are demonstrating that you appreciate the feedback, and you have another point of view the giver may not have been aware of.

NA: That sounds like a thoughtful response. Another thing I would add, especially as an introvert, is to say, “I’d like to think about that feedback”—so taking it in before reacting. On another note, what tips do you offer extroverts who want to give feedback to their introvert team members and other colleagues?

CC: Extroverts may want to monitor their body language and dial down their expressiveness a little to mirror the person to whom they are giving the feedback. If giving feedback over video, first observe the recipient’s mood. Smile. Put them at ease and explain why you’re giving the feedback and the intention behind it. Also recognize that they want to share their perspective, so leave room in the conversation for them to contribute.

NA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

CC: Yes! Feedback is a gift. It’s an opportunity for us to hear other perspectives and to grow. I also want to emphasize that it is not a one-way, “my-way-or-the-highway” dialogue. When giving feedback, allow for some give and take. Ask the other person questions so that you understand their viewpoint. At the end of the conversation, both parties should leave motivated, inspired, and understanding each other better.

NA: Thank you, Casey, for your thought-provoking suggestions about receiving feedback as an introvert. I especially appreciate the SALT model, which is a reminder to reflect and listen—something introverts are naturally suited to do! What a useful way to learn and grow as a professional.

Copyright © 2021 Nancy Ancowitz

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