Uncomfortable receiving feedback?

As a coach and as a leader you are constantly giving your players and staff members feedback for their work every day. That’s part of being a good leader, to always help guide the process by providing relevant feedback. You received some of your training in giving feedback when you did your coach education courses. There you hopefully received extensive training in how you are supposed to supply feedback to the players and it’s something that you’ve done so often in your career that you feel it’s relatively easy for you.

However, there are still a lot of coaches out there who struggle with providing good and specific feedback. But there are probably even more coaches who struggle with receiving feedback. Imagine that you are giving feedback to another coach and you see that the coach in question starts to turn slightly away from you, twist and shrink a little bit before regressing into a shell of protection and comfort. When the coach emerges from this shell, the response from your feedback is excuses or ’explanations’ that emancipates this coach from any responsibility connected to the area you are providing feedback. Or, even worse, the coach arises from the shell with authoritative behavior as cutting you off or using language to put you down and to show you who is the boss. Maybe you have also experienced being on the receiving end of feedback and feeling a strange uncomfortable and something that resembles a nervous feeling because you feel that the coach giving you feedback is ’questioning your ability’.

This uncomfortable situation you may experience when you receive feedback is not unique for football coaches but something that is the same for most human beings regardless of position. When you take big pride in the work you do and are happy to be in a certain position, you might feel challenged and almost threatened when another person says that you could do something differently. But why is that? As a player you didn’t feel threatened when the coach gave you feedback, so what is different now when you are coaching?

Maybe you are worried about what the other coaches think of you and that receiving feedback or making mistakes will ’look bad’ since you are supposed to know it all. Or maybe you think that the coach who is providing feedback is out ’to get you’ and trying to take your position. It could also be that your knowledge in the particular field of the feedback is low so it’s easier to make something up, like a good excuse, than to say ’thank you’ and take the feedback on board. However, it could also be that you have this uncomfortable, nervous feeling because you are insecure of yourself and you have a low feeling of self-esteem.

All of the issues above are perfectly normal, and if you do not recognize yourself, you probably recognize some of your fellow coaches who get kind of squeaky when you provide them with feedback. But whatever the reason is for you or them having this uncomfortable feeling when receiving feedback, you need to remember that people who are providing you with feedback are actually investing their time in you. Of course this investment can be conscious or unconscious from people, but it’s still an investment that contain valuable information for you and your development in coaching and leading. So instead of making up an excuse or blaming the referee, next time say thank you for the feedback. Then you reflect upon the feedback and decide if there is something in it that you can learn from or if it’s only nonsense. You choose.

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