Leveraging Feedback

This is Part 1 in a series on feedback from Jeff Henderson, the co-founder of Preaching Rocket and the Lead Pastor of Gwinnett Church.

If you’re going to be a communicator, feedback is inevitable. It comes with the territory and arrives in all sorts of ways. Sometimes, you get feedback immediately after your presentation. Other times, you see feedback on twitter or Facebook, via email or in the blogosphere. And yes, let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all — the anonymous letter in the mail. (Don’t you think that in heaven we’ll discover who the authors are of those anonymous letters?)

Yes, feedback is inevitable but it’s also one of the best tools you can use to improve. The secret is learning how to leverage it the right way. There is a right way and a wrong way to leverage feedback. In this four-part blog series we’re going to discuss how to do just that.

Today, we’re going to start by simply giving you the permission to ignore the wrong feedback. That’ s right. You hereby have the permission to ignore the wrong feedback.

I’m not suggesting an arrogant or vindictive attitude on your part. I’m not even suggesting you hit delete or fail to respond. I’m simply giving you the permission to ignore it. Here’s what I mean.

When you, for example, receive a negative email, it is polite to respond graciously by thanking them for their time. This does not mean however that you give the email credibility by doubting yourself, taking it home with you or secretly harboring thoughts of quitting and doing something else. (Is it any wonder that Monday is the day when most pastors resign?)

That said, what if the critic is right? Wouldn’t we be guilty of ignoring possibly helpful feedback? Sure, that’s possible if it weren’t for what we’re going to discuss in part two of this series — how to build a credible, helpful and critical feedback team. (And no, this doesn’t mean you have to hire anyone.)

When you surround yourself with an appropriate and helpful feedback system, you don’t have to open yourself up to the random emails and commentaries that are uninvited and oftentimes not very constructive.

Ignoring the wrong feedback and leveraging the right feedback is one of the best practices you can implement to help you improve as a preacher and communicator. In Part 2, we’ll get into more specifics. In the meantime, how have you dealt with feedback and criticism as a communicator?