The Art of Receiving Feedback

The Art of Receiving Feedback

Most people in the workplace really want to know how they are doing. They want to know if other people like what they are doing; if something could be done more effectively; or if boundaries are being overstepped. However the process of feedback can be quite threatening to human beings because it is asking for change. At a primal level, humans don’t tend to like change so the survival brain switches on, pushing back and defending the status quo. In a feedback scenario defensive behavior can shut down an authentic conversation and real opportunities for learning and improvement lost in a pool of emotion.  One of the key pillars to receiving feedback is to notice (and deal with) those emotions when they surface and seize the opportunity to grow professionally or as a business.

Receiving feedback when you are in the right frame of mind is critical – pick your time. If your boss or colleague wishes to provide feedback when you are stressed/upset make another time for the feedback discussion.  If your boss has provided feedback via phone, email or SMS, if possible ask for a face to face discussion.  Here are some steps or scaffolding for receiving feedback effectively whether it be from your boss, colleague or client.
1. Listen carefully to what is being said by giving good eye contact and making notes
2. It’s not about winning. Be receptive to the feedback and see it as an opportunity to grow and improve
3. Notice your emotions/reactions (are you in denial, blaming others or looking for solutions and improvement actions?)
4. Accept positive or negative feedback graciously
5. Ask questions to clarify, seek examples and get into perspective
6. Address areas for improvement. Identify specific actions
7. Repeat feedback actions. Ie. Checking I have heard right…so what you want is x and y?
8. Write down the actions and if appropriate, make a follow up time to discuss progress on the actions
9. Thank the person for the feedback reinforcing how important it is to get feedback.

Building a trusting relationship is critical to opening the channels of communication for future feedback. Invite colleagues and clients to provide you with feedback because you value it as an important opportunity for professional growth. For people who are particularly sensitive to feedback, try not to feel devastated by small criticism and view the feedback as a gift to improve or enhance your employee/business brand.

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