Once after delivering a keynote, an attendee handed me a list of mistakes I made as a presenter – I rocked back and forth a bit, I let a couple of “umms” slip in. That person was right. All professional speakers understand that public speaking is forever an evolution, but the unexpected critique stung.
Some feedback is so confrontational it’s hard to see any well-meaning intent behind it. Abrupt answers to open-ended questions such as “didn’t like it” can raise hackles. When a member descends on you with guns blazing, it’s hard to be resilient. When a critic publically shames the organization or leadership, it’s difficult not to become defensive. And as soon as defensiveness asserts itself, it isn’t easy to do anything productive with the feedback.
Our egos can only take so much.
I wonder if we can teach members to give us the type of feedback we can use.
Perhaps the nicer we are to them, the more thoughtful they will be while choosing their words to express their concern. Maybe if we tell them we are taking a risk by experimenting on their behalf, they will limit their comments to the elements we have control over. Possibly if we raise them up when they actively join, participate, and lean in with us, they’ll, in turn, let us know when we’re doing a good job organizing, hosting, and leading.