Amy Rees Anderson
Sorry, I can’t say it better than Amy The final countdown | by: Michel Ouellette JMD
“If You Want to Improve, Stop Defending and Start Listening”
To grow and improve is a desire that most all of us share. Yet, in order to grow and improve we must first be willing to acknowledge our areas of weakness; we must accept who we are. Stop defending and start listening; feedback is the quickest way to learn about our weaknesses. Knowing our weaknesses is the most important step in overcoming them.
When a person’s views, ideas, or behaviors are threatened, any suggestion that conflicts with their idea or behavior can send a person into defensive mode and they are unable to take in much new information as they become solely focused on defending their position. They will deny, make excuses, challenge, rationalize, explain, justify, blame, avoid, withdraw, or go on the attack. To a person on the defense, any new knowledge feels threatening and they are unable to see any side but their own.
Given that our desire is to grow and improve, it is imperative to take steps to avoid this type of response. The most important element in avoiding it is to listen. Our ability to form healthy relationships with others is a direct result of our ability to listen well. Sometimes when hearing feedback, we must force ourselves to take a deep breath, or, if necessary, ask to be excused for a moment so you might step away and regain our composure. Then we can return with a clear head, ready to actively listen.
Be careful not to expect everyone to see things exactly the same way you do. One of the best things about diversity of thought is that it helps us to view things from different perspectives, so welcome the opportunity to expand your horizons. If, while receiving feedback, you are feeling attacked, feel comfortable to express you are feeling that way in a calm and respectful tone. Look for areas you can agree with them.
If you truly can’t find any points to agree with then ask for specific examples in a way to show that you have a genuine desire to better understand their point of view. Be quick to apologize when you should. Stay on topic. Don’t use the conversation as a way to start bringing up your own grievances that are unrelated to the current discussion.
After hearing the other person out with an open mind, if you are still struggling with their point of view, simply thank them for sharing their views with you and let them know that you genuinely want to take time to ponder what they have said, stating that you will come back to them after you have given it more thought.
When someone is willing to take the time to give you constructive feedback, listen. Truly confident people are able to listen respectfully to other perspectives, then to genuinely consider and evaluate if there is truth in what others are saying. They are able to do it without the feeling that other perspectives are in any way diminishing their own.
This is today’s way and the way of tomorrow: if you want to improve your situation, to improve yourself, stop defending and start listening.
To be continued…
Michel Ouellette JMD is a talented keynote and motivational speaker, public affairs & communications Strategist. For more about “Making It” in the years to come and coming soon: “Standing Out” by JMD. Order Now
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~Amy Rees Anderson is a Forbes contributor and shares her insights as an entrepreneur turned mentor & angel Investor. Amy can be followed on her daily blogs at www.amyreesanderson.com/blog