The process of communicating, messaging and getting the best out of people is a skill and not always an easy task.

I’m typing this post on a flight from Minneapolis to Denver and just before I boarded, I received an email with feedback about one of my recent keynote speeches. It was pretty typical: overwhelmingly positive, but with a couple of comments that still “stung” a bit.

I’m just like everybody else – when I receive constructive criticism, I want to get defensive and say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” but that’s not what Outperformers do. We use it as fuel for our fire.

So, whether you’re giving OR receiving feedback, here are three critical components to keep in mind:

1 – Feedback is necessary for growth

Simply stated, we all have the capacity to get better and constructive feedback is essential for progress.

In sports, they call this analytics. Athletes have never had so much information readily available at their fingertips about their performance and where they can improve. The greatest Outperformers use this to get better by shoring up their weaknesses and enhancing their strengths.

Business can be slightly different but the same principle still applies. Objective, unbiased feedback about your individual performance is the only way to reach the next level.

2 – Feedback isn’t about YOU. It’s your performance in a specific ROLE.

One of our greatest baseline fears is that of rejection. When we’re told we’re not doing something well, we typically interpret it as a personal attack on our self worth.

Please don’t do that.

This affects people at all levels of business, but without a doubt, it is the biggest thing holding most salespeople back. They don’t pick up the phone because they fear the person on the other end will say no. And it isn’t the “no” that holds them back: it’s their perception of being told “no” to them as a person…rather than simply being told “no” to their product, idea or service.

I don’t know anyone who truly enjoys receiving criticism but the remedy to this is to compartmentalize your roles (what I mean when I speak about creating your “On-Field Identity”). Outperforming athletes have the courage to take the game winning shot because they know the result doesn’t define their entire existence as a person. If you adopt this approach, you’ll be much more open to receiving feedback and stepping up your game.

3 – Use feedback specifically and behaviorally

General statements such as “good job” or “do that better” don’t work. What specifically is good? What specifically needs to be better?

If you’re receiving feedback, ask for specifics. The more precise, the better. If you’re giving feedback, don’t assume the person knows exactly what’s on your mind. Be specific and intentional.

Secondly, give feedback on behavior as much as possible (NOT results). I appreciate that business, like athletics, are based on results and outcomes but behaviors drive these metrics. And behaviors are always something you have 100% control over.

Keep these three things in mind and you’ll give great feedback, get the best out of others, and Outperform The Norm.