We all need feedback for our business and it’s also vital as a business person. However, most of the time we don’t actively listen to feedback whether it’s something we’ve asked for or not. Feedback can be interpreted as negative, like a customer complaint, or positive, like customer compliments.

Compliments are great. It helps us to keep going, especially when times are tough or we’re feeling down hearted and need acknowledgement. And we also need constructive feedback, to show us how or what we can do to improve. Most of the time, our customers don’t give us, the most critical feedback we need, and we continue to make the same mistakes again and again.

Recently, I and eight others pitched to a panel of experts. The panel then gave feedback after each pitch, which is what I thought we were all there for. I watched and listened in dismay whilst each person who got up before me attempted to justify, debate, blame others on why they couldn’t do it, or squashed the feedback with “no, I’ve tried that before”, “that won’t work” or “I can’t do that”. Instead of listening they left with very little information on what they could do to improve. I wondered, whether they’re customers also felt like they haven’t been heard? or do they just stop bothering giving feedback?

When we stop the flow of feedback we miss the gem of invaluable information that can help us make a difference. Whether that be a difference in the people or company we’re leading, being a parent, sibling, spouse etc. Feedback is like a gift, when we reject it without objectivity, its like saying thanks but I’m not interested in your gift, take it back. People than stop giving us wonderful gifts.

I’m not saying all gifts are relevant or created equally – you can re-gift! What I am saying is that it’s only by unwrapping, do you see the difference it can make in your life. If you reject feedback without listening, you haven’t been objective and no lessons are being learned.

I like to surround myself with trusted business friends. Ones who tell me exactly how it is, without the tippy toeing or beating around the bush. And sometimes it is incredible confronting and at times painful to hear the truth! But they know that they can openly and honestly tell me what’s wrong or what’s not working without a negative or emotionally volatile response. I say thank you, express my gratitude and go away and really think about it. It’s only after this that I can make a decision to do things differently and that at times makes a huge difference.

A Greek philosopher named Epictetus once said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”. Perhaps this is a good philosophy to adopt in life (including business). Why not try it on and see how it fits.