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Training Tip to Combat Defensiveness

What can you do with someone who is defensive and doesn’t receive feedback well?
Being defensive isn’t unusual. It is a very human and common reaction to criticism. My sister and I joke about the fact we weren’t raised to receive criticism as something that is helpful. It can be a slow process to change not only how you react but also to look forward to feedback. You may be working with someone who has years of practice defending actions versus looking for ways to use criticism to make improvements. Here are some suggestions to help both you and your team grow through criticism.

1) Share with your team that you will spend 2017 not as a defensive team explaining yourselves but as an offensive team that is looking intentionally for feedback to work smarter, enjoy your jobs more and to be more helpful to others. Consider creating a monthly award for the person who receives feedback and implements a change from it. Make your own “Spirit” award.

2) Practice receiving criticism. As part of your monthly coaching with each person, let them know you will be giving specific feedback to each and the rule for this is that he/she can’t respond to what is being said. No defense and no explanation. However, 1 question can be asked to clarify something. The individual must return to you within 24 hours to clarify what can be used from the feedback to improve and how it will be done. If you want to have the most impact, model this by asking your manager to do the same with you. Ultimately you need to listen to criticism and discern what is an actionable item and what is out of your control or may not have any impact.

“Critical friends see your strengths, want to move you forward, can change your mind, can make you smile.”, Anonymous.


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