Here’s a research project I’d love to do.

  • How do we more accurately assess an individual’s ability to handle feedback?
  • What are the steps towards feedback seeking maturity?

“Handling feedback well is all about being more responsive to the information we receive about our environment and ourselves.”

I see four stages of growth when it comes to handling feedback in our various organisations, projects, partnerships, friendships, communities and families.

Where do you sit on this feedback seeking maturity model?

Four stages of feedback seeking maturity.

Each of these stages is a huge leap forwards and requires a lot of training and work to progress.

I see a strong correlation between this and Tuckman’s four stages of team development. Handling feeback well is the key to allowing a team to go from forming and storming to norming and performing.

Stage 1. Silence

We all start here.

“I’m not willing to get involved and speak my mind because…”

Silence is our first and last refuge.

A chance to learn about the opportunities and challenges and tackle tasks. Tending to behave quite independently, safely and focused on self. Motivated but relatively uninformed of longer term issues and objectives.

Stage 2. Giving

Giving is a baby step.

“Hi Sally. We really need to catch up and talk about…”

When things become uncomfortable we try to “give” feedback. Setting up situations in which we can frame a conversation around sending a clear signal is hard.

Form opinions about the character and integrity of the other participants. Feel compelled to voice opinions. Balancing power and responsibility. Asking questions and assessing decisions. Voicing disagreements and personality clashes.

Stage 3. Receiving

Receiving is a sign of maturity.

“I hear what you are saying and I am able to take it on-board whole heartedly.”

Receive feedback without getting caught up in triggers, boundaries, displacement, identity, truth, perspective and tracks is a big challenge. This takes significant training.

Forming resolutions and agreements. Greater intimacy, and a spirit of co-operation. Clarity around common goals and shared responsibility. Clearer success targets. Higher levels of tolerance and compassion. Flexible and forgiving.

Stage 4. Seeking

Seeking is progressive.

“Tell me, what is the one thing holding me back from being a better partner / colleague / friend / son / parent / …? Let’s actually talk.”

A feedback seeking culture is one in which we communicate with authenticity and respond with improved agility.

Responsible, motivated and knowledgeable. Competent, autonomous and capable of handling executive decisions without supervision. Efficient response. Openness to criticism.

Maintaining a feedback seeking culture takes work, skill development, modelling, leadership, safety and maturity.


  1. If we can assess a collective’s feedback seeking maturity we can more accurately calculate their performance.
  2. Modelling feedback seeking behaviour is a shortcut to improved team work maturity.
  3. A team’s current stage of feedback seeking maturity will inversely align with their levels of required management authority.