I recently had the experience of receiving second-hand feedback and although the intent was pure, I found myself in a rather awkward position. I was listening to someone I trusted a great deal as they relayed feedback from someone I also respect and admire, however, the person relaying the feedback had not been involved in the scenario the feedback was about. So, though I respected and trusted both parties, I found it very hard to be completely open to the feedback. It felt more like here-say, but it wasn’t. It was valid feedback but my defenses went up and I started to get upset…and rapidly realized I was shooting the messenger, which wasn’t helping me or them.
Lesson learned: If you find yourself in the unenviable position of receiving feedback about someone else that they have not heard, respectfully ask that person to speak directly to the intended party. Feedback is about a conversation, not third-party delivery.