December 19, 2013, 12:17 PM — Somewhere along the line, the concept of "feedback" became for many professionals a euphemism for "criticism."
"For most people it’s, 'Oh no – what did I do now!' or 'Good gosh, what went wrong!,'" Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write in Harvard Business Review. "Of course it is possible that your boss wants to praise you, ask your opinion on something, or just discuss an issue, but the vast majority of people will assume they’re being called in to be called on the carpet for something or another."
Zenger and Folkman term the phenomenon "feedback phobia," which they say is unfortunate because the majority of today's professionals want and need feedback from their managers.
"The best leaders appear to ask more people for feedback and they ask for feedback more often," the men write. "Rather than being fearful of feedback, they are comfortable receiving information about their behavior from their bosses, their colleagues, and their subordinates."
To transition from someone who fears feedback into a person who welcomes it, Zenger and Folkman say you first need to understand your predisposition to critiques, both giving and receiving.
The pair have created a Feedback Practices and Perceptions Assessment you can take here.
"It also measures your overall feelings of self-confidence, since that trait correlates strongly with the desire to give and receive feedback," they state. "This being a self-assessment, most people will not surprised by the results. Still, it will likely make the impressions you have about yourself very clear, and a clear view will often motivate people to improve."