Many people avoid feedback at all costs and view any review of their performance at work with fear and trepidation. Whilst there is clearly a need for those who are tasked with giving feedback to develop their skills and competences in this area, the truth is that a lot of us simply fear what we perceive as criticism and all that this implies. There are many psychological reasons for this such as being worried about failure, denial of reality, concerns about accepting responsibility or the negative personal impact any consequences may have for us and our work.
A number of things can support you on your journey to not only receiving feedback well when it is offered, but to ultimately seeking it out whenever possible.
There is no failure – only feedback – Reframe how you think about feedback and view it as a learning and personal growth opportunity. Even if you performed a task to meet all expectations, there is nearly always something that could have been differently to come out in an even better place.
Listen with an open mind – You are under no obligation to automatically agree with what the person giving you feedback is saying but don’t become defensive and automatically reject it.
Repeat back what the other person has said – Paraphrasing what has been said allows to you time to digest the feedback and take it on board. It also shows that you have heard what the other person has to say.
Stay focused on the facts – Not everyone is skillful at giving non-judgemental feedback. Remain aware of this and try not to take things personally – manage your emotions, keep to the facts, and neutralise or leave out emotive words when you paraphrase.
Clarify anything that is not clear – Ask questions if you are unsure about the specifics of what the other person is saying so that you can both be on the same page. Ask for examples, even if they are not offered freely.
Be honest with them – and yourself – Decide if the feedback is is fair and – if it is – tell the person providing the feedback how you feel. If you feel the feedback is not fair, then explain, providing concrete examples.
Be open to new opportunities and learning – Receiving constructive feedback is a great door-opener for your own learning and development. If you are not sure how to improve or do things differently, ask for their suggestions or come up with your own ideas.
Agree a mutually acceptable action plan – Discuss the objectives and options moving forward. It is important to agree the next steps, identify any support you may need and have a time frame in place that is acceptable to both parties.
Feedback is a gift – We may not always ask for feedback (even if we should do this more often) but whenever it is freely and constructively given, view it as gift that comes packed with positive intentions. Thank the other person for their comments – even if you need time to think about it in more depth.
Find out how we can support you in giving and receiving effective feedback with our tailor-made coaching and training.