A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions; yet it is also a change from one way of thinking to another. “Paradigms are powerful because they create a new lens through which we see the world. The power of a paradigm shift is the essential power of change.” – Stephen Covey. Paradigm shifts can be transformational, even revolutional.
Like it or not we receive feedback from people on a constant basis. It started when we were infants. When we did something that pleased our parents we knew it – when we stepped out of line we also knew it. Some of the feedback we receive is cherished and we learn from it; some of it we reject and/or deny. What if we made a paradigm shift regarding feedback and viewed feedback as a gift? Would this help our ability to actually embrace feedback? Here is a four-step process adapted from Nigel Bristow’s book titled Where’s the Gift? which can help us to make this shift:
- Acknowledge the gift – assume that you are about to discover something of value and be appreciative when receiving the gift.
- Open the box and seek the gift – sometimes the gift is hard to find in all of the packaging. Don’t discard the gift because you don’t like the wrapping. Ask lots of questions and use Channel 2 listening – be open-minded. Don’t look for what you want, look for what the other person has the ability to give. Remember to not reject the gift because you don’t like or respect the giver or you suspect their motives.
- Acknowledge the nature and value of the gift – summarize the feedback you’ve received, tell the giver how you plan to use it (if you can at this point.) Share your feelings or views (if you can without coming across defensively.) If needed, take time out to think through the gift you’ve been given. If you’re convinced the giver is misinformed, remain open to the possibility that you might also be misinformed. Ask yourself where’s the gift and continue to ask the question until you find the gift.
- Use the gift – when you incorporate the feedback you’ve received and experience the benefits of the gift, let the giver know how it has helped you. If you can’t use the gift immediately, store the information until you discover a use for it.
Changing our view on feedback as a gift helps us see its use even when the feedback may be inaccurate. The quality of the feedback depends more on our ability to receive it rather than the skill of the other person giving it. We’ve all received feedback from someone who’s words stung. They may not be adept on giving feedback but there is always a take a way learning opportunity – even if it’s learning how to not take things personally. When we can assume that the feedback giver is giving us something of value, we listen to understand what they are saying and why they are saying it, we can then find the gift.