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How to Receive Challenge

Are you open to be challenged yourself? #ChoosetoChallenge

When considering the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge, you could be lulled into thinking that you aren’t part of the group who will be called out.

The truth is, if we want to contribute to the evolution of our workplaces, we have to be prepared to learn and grow ourselves. Role modelling how to receive feedback is as important as modelling how to give it.

So today we are going to explore the other side of the challenge equation: being challenged… a skill we all need to learn and an important #ChoosetoChallenge message.

Lean in and listen

When we’re being challenged by another it can be easy to jump to conclusions about their intent. If you’re able to suspend judgement and withhold your immediate reaction, you gain the opportunity to hear what is being shared. We encourage you to take a genuine interest in understanding the other person’s point of view as it is a powerful way of giving yourself and your colleague time to get all the relevant information out on the table.

Ask questions to clarify and make it constructive

Providing constructive feedback or challenging a thought or behaviour takes courage and can be uncomfortable for everyone involved. Instead of being defensive and focusing on who is right or wrong, get curious and ask questions to gain a clearer perspective. This will help you stay out of the trap of defending your own story and escalating the issue beyond what is being put forward.

Own your 50%

It is human nature to want to defend ourselves if we feel challenged or unfairly criticised, however, to create the conditions for constructive dialogue you’ll need to get beyond defensiveness. To own your 50%, employ strategies that enable you to show up in the conversation:

– Use the breath to stay present and manage any physical or emotional response. A longer out breath signals to your fight or flight response that you are in a safe environment

– Ask for some time to process the conversation and circle back after you have had time to consider a helpful response

– If you are feeling unusually triggered by a discussion, bounce the key points off a trusted colleague or mentor for different perspectives. This is not to find ways to ‘win’ the argument or shut down the feedback, but to clarify what you can learn and uncover healthy ways to respond.

One of the hardest parts about being challenged is that we are often unprepared or surprised by the conversation. Proactively asking for feedback (exploring what you do well and what you could do differently) is a valuable way to create the environment to both give and receive information.

Being open to challenge is an important skill that takes practise to master. Once you can quieten the ego, being challenged provides a fantastic opportunity to learn, get creative and grow.

Remember, how you challenge is as important as what you are challenging

The way in which you receive challenge, and how you’re being when you are challenged is as important as what you say. When we are in judgement or responding in a defensive way, the other person naturally becomes defensive or protective (their character is being questioned) – when we listen, remain curious and seek to understand we demonstrate a willingness to be open to ideas and other ways of thinking.

#ChooseToChallenge & #ChallengewithCompassion