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If you find yourself asking this question, you’re approaching it all wrong. And, even worse, you’re probably driving your manager crazy.

That question puts all of the cognitive work on the other person. 

You’re expecting them to jog their memory for all of the interactions they’ve had with you, instantly come up with an observation about you, and then make a recommendation on how you can improve. That’s a lot of work. Not to mention the other person is likely not paying much attention to you in the first place (human beings are naturally predisposed to focus on themselves).

Which is why this approach rarely yields meaningful conversation on how you can improve and develop.

Try this four-step approach instead:

Step 1: Have a clear ask in mind 

Come up with one specific situation, task, or quality you want feedback on. 

For example, you might be actively working on building a stronger rapport with clients during meetings.

Step 2: Give advanced notice

Tell the other person you’d like them to pay attention to that one specific situation, task, or quality so they can give you their feedback. 

For example, you can say to a colleague: “I’ve been working on getting more comfortable interacting with clients. In our weekly status meeting with Acme Corp tomorrow can you pay attention to how I handle the conversation with them? I’d like to come across as comfortable, warm, and friendly.”

Step 3: Schedule time to discuss

Be sure to gather the other person’s feedback immediately after or soon after the event takes place. This prevents them from forgetting or too much time passing so the feedback would be irrelevant.

In our scenario, you would schedule 5-15 minutes on their calendar right after the Acme Corp meeting to get their feedback.

Step 4: Follow-up

Young professionals who actively and continuously focus on improvement are the ones who are most successful. Incorporate the feedback you received and then check back in with that person to see if they’ve noticed any improvement. 

Feedback should be an ongoing conversation. Following-up also demonstrates that you took their feedback seriously and encourages them to continue offering their feedback.