Do your colleagues see you the way you see yourself?

It can be very confronting to receive feedback, especially if it’s ‘360’ (feedback from a number of different people), and especially when it shows that perhaps you aren’t being ‘received’ quite as you intended!

Look around you: are certain colleagues brimming with confidence or just a touch arrogant? Would they be horrified to think you viewed them differently to how they see themselves? And how about you? Are you getting your ‘message’ across or do colleagues often misinterpret you?

There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation if you aren’t clear how your working style affects others. Many people don’t have an accurate perception of how they come across to their boss, their colleagues and the people they manage or lead. I think that knowing yourself, understanding your unique contribution and knowing what external impact you want to have when you show up at work each day are ESSENTIAL ingredients to success. But it can take a bit of work, a bit of time, and a lot of self-awareness.


360 feedback

The only way to find out the truth about how you’re perceived is to involve as many people as you can in a 360-degree feedback exercise. You may have been part of one yourself recently. In our experience of both conducting such reviews and helping teams respond to the results is that it can be surprisingly illuminating! And it can be a pleasant surprise for some and tough for others.

For example, it just doesn’t come naturally to many people, even if their role requires it, to know how to challenge someone without coming across as rude. Or to know how to create trust and exude gravitas without having to make friends with everyone. Or to become a great negotiator and influencer without appearing over-controlling or bulldozing. And the more senior you become, the more these qualities are put to the test. It’s not always easy to remain authentic and yet ‘play the role’ that your job description demands. We can slip up along the way. But are we even aware of it?

Feedback learning Process

If you’ve ever been shocked, disappointed or angry about what’s come up in your feedback, take a look at this – it might help to understand the learning process and where you fall in it:

Incompetence may seem like a strong word to use here, but we all have areas for improvement, we just might not know it yet!

Moving from Step 1 (Unconscious Incompetence) to Step 2 (Conscious Incompetence) of this process can be painful. You’re effectively moving from ‘ignorance is bliss’ to the realisation that you do lack certain skills and capabilities. But with the pain comes the growth: you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken, so we shouldn’t shy away from this feeling. We should embrace it.

The next step moves us from incompetence to competence in Step 3 (Conscious Competence). What gets us there is training, mentoring, time (experience on the job) and so on. Interestingly this is also where a lot of people stop their learning but really the goal is to get to a point of mastery, otherwise known as Step 4 (Unconscious Competence).

Think of learning to drive – it’s automatic. You’re so good you don’t even realise how good you are! This takes practice, practice, practice. When you get so good at something this can be when you don’t even recognise you are good at it any more (unconscious) until you start to get feedback from people reminding you! Again, this is the up-side of feedback. We can be nervous because we don’t know what we’re going to hear back, but it’s always a happy surprise when we get recognised for skills that we have forgotten are a strength!

When was the last time you were brave enough to get feedback? Maybe it’s time to reach out and hear from the people around you. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised!

For help in teaching teams how to give and receive feedback then put it into action, email us at

Share this post