EI and leadership - Articles

EI & Leadership - Categories


« 10. Feedback received, thanks, says top leader  »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. Author of "How to develop emotional resilience and manage your emotions".

Your skills at receiving feedback can say a lot about your emotional intelligence. Being able to hear and accept feedback without becoming defensive is an essential skill for a leader and one that reflects an emotionally intelligent one.

This is the second article in a two part series on emotional intelligence for leaders on how to accept feedback without becoming defensive.

  1. The first one explains why becoming defensive hinders your performance.
  2. This article explains how to accept and receive feedback without being defensive, so you gain and maintain people's respect and know what is going on around you.

Here are five tips on how to accept and receive feedback in an emotionally intelligent way

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

EI feedback tip 1: Manage your emotions

Receiving feedback can produce a variety of emotions. It is your reaction to these emotions that usually leads you to behave in the way that you do.  Instead of letting your emotions dictate your behaviour, manage them appropriately.

For example, you might acknowledge them out loud in your responses:

"I feel concerned on hearing that. Please tell me more about what you think I've done."

Give yourself a moment to notice how you are feeling. Then, instead of objecting to or denying the validity of the feedback, allow yourself to hear it, even if you feel hurt or stupid.

Keep noticing your feelings, but don't allow them to lead you to become defensive. This is emotional intelligence applied at a high level.

Managing your emotions is a crucial part of being an emotionally intelligent leader. The Genos emotional intelligence model identifies seven different emotional intelligence competencies. "Emotional self-management" is the fifth competency.

EI feedback tip 2: Remind yourself of the value of feedback

Receiving feedback in an emotionally intelligent way requires you to have a positive attitude towards it.

  • Remind yourself of how valuable feedback can be.
  • Remind yourself that other people may perceive what you do differently from the way you perceive it and it can help you to know their perceptions.
  • Remind yourself that we all have blind spots and that it can be very helpful when others fill you in on your blind spots.

This is being an emotionally intelligent leader.

EI feedback tip 3: Pause and breathe

Pause and breathe. Pause again. Collect your thoughts. Then answer.

Too often leaders with lower levels of emotional intelligence respond to negative feedback with a knee-jerk reaction. They don't even wait to consider their response. They attack. They defend themselves, justify their behaviour, and walk all over the person giving the feedback.

This not only stops you from gaining the benefits from feedback, it leaves the other person feeling bad about themselves and bad about you. And, if you are a leader of the organisation or business, they can then feel bad about the organisation or business too.

Why risk such a series of negative consequences?

Instead, pause, breathe and become receptive. Stay present with the other person's need to talk to you when receiving feedback.

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

EI feedback tip 4: "Tell me more"

My desire to write this article was prompted by a recent conversation I had with a senior member of an organisation. He walked in on a meeting I was having with a colleague of his.

We'd been discussing the fees that had been set for a course they were running. I thought they were too low and undersold both the value of the course and the significance of the organisation.

I said to the leader in question, "I think the course fees are too low".

What could he have relied with that would reflect a high emotional intelligence?

He could have said "Tell me more". That's all that was needed. Then I could have explained my basis for saying this and provided the evidence I had that backed this up. He could then have thanked me for the feedback, because top leaders do that, especially those who have high emotional intelligence. It is simple really.

This didn't happen. Instead, he explained how experienced he was, how long he had worked for a particular organisation and how well he knew what the market could absorb. There was no further communication. This is what I mean by being defensive. And this is what I mean by having a lack of emotional intelligence as part of a leadership style.

Think how useful a discussion we might have had if he had said, "Tell me more". And, how much more respect I would have had, if he'd said that.

EI feedback tip 5: Explore the feedback

There are many different responses that can be given on receiving feedback. What matters is that in some way you explore the thinking of the person giving you the feedback. Don't shut down the feedback. Don't deny the feedback. Don't justify your actions. Explore the feedback. That's emotionally intelligent leadership.

"Tell me more ... " is just one of the phrases that allows you to do this. Some of the other ones are:

  • "What kinds of things have happened to suggest this?"
  • "What have you observed that makes you think that?"
  • "I was negative - in what way?"
  • "I'm sorry you thought I was negative, what kinds of things did I do to come across like that?"
  • "What would you like me to do as a result of this feedback?"

In other words, as an emotionally intelligent leader you'd find a way that allows you to discover any reasons for the feedback. Allow yourself to more fully understand the feedback. And, give the person the opportunity to tell you the feedback without feeling he or she has to work their way through a torrent of denial, anger or ridicule.

Emotional intelligence and communication work together.

Your emotional intelligence: How high is it?

The ability to receive feedback in a gracious way can be both beneficial and a true indicator of just how emotionally intelligent you are and what a good leader you are.

Can you say, "Feedback received, thank you"?

Be a high EI leader and develop your emotional intelligence now.

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader and receive feedback easily? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package now.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now.