3 Rules for When You Get Feedback in Ministry
You want to get better.
You want to grow.
You want the ministry you oversee to get better and grow.
And your volunteers are important in getting better and growing because they bring different perspectives, objectivity, and fresh ideas.
But it can also be difficult to get feedback from volunteers; sometimes they don’t give feedback in the nicest ways.
And it can be painful.
It can feel like a personal attack rather than an attempt help you get better and grow.
But the answer is not to stop encouraging, ignoring, or suppressing feedback.
The answer is to put some rules in place when someone gives feedback to help you get better and grow from it.
Here are the 3 rules I use whenever a volunteer offers feedback in a friendly or not-so-friendly way.
Rule 1: Give the benefit of the doubt
I’ve decided to always operate from the assumption that people are trying to be helpful when they give feedback, rather than trying to personally attack me.
If someone says something negative about one of my ideas or communicates in a way that is not tactful, I assume that they want us to get better, rather than that they dislike me.
And often that is the case.
Of course, I’m not saying my emotions stay in line with that assumption, which leads into Rule 2.
Rule 2: Wait to respond
It’s easy to say you’ll give people the benefit of the doubt and operate under the assumption that people are not personally attacking you when they give feedback, but emotionally it is not so simple.
So I’ve put the simple rule in place that I’ll wait to respond when someone gives feedback.
I won’t try to defend the thing the person is critiquing or explain their critique away.
I’ll simply thank them for the feedback and wait until I’ve had time to process before I respond.
This leads into Rule 3.
Rule 3: Follow-up in a loving and thankful way
Once you’ve had time to process feedback, make sure you always follow-up.
It will prevent small things from becoming big things.
People don’t want every idea they have to be implemented, they just want to know they’ve been heard and taken seriously.
Sometimes the person simply may not have had all the information.
Sometimes the person may not understand the why you’re doing [blank] or the why not you’re doing [blank].
And sometimes the person may be on to something, and you need to make a change.
Whatever the case, communicate with the person.
If you ignore their feedback, they’ll either stop trying to help you get better or their give it to other people who will actually listen, creating much bigger problems down the road.
What are your tips for handling feedback, even when it’s not given gently? Leave a comment.
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