How to Receive Less-than-Perfect Feedback

When our behavior is criticized or questioned, it can feel like a personal attack. To counter the feeling, view the feedback as an opportunity to make more informed choices about how you are perceived by others. In some circumstances, the feedback may say more about the person delivering it than it does about you. But it’s typically best to simply thank the feedback provider for his or her comment and offer your assurance that you will consider it further.

Here’s what to do if you receive negative feedback:

  • Listen carefully. Even if you feel attacked, resist the temptation to defend yourself until you have had a chance to reflect on and thoroughly process the feedback. Listen to what the other person is saying, and avoid interrupting or jumping to conclusions.
  • Ask questions. Clarify what is being said and why. Ask for specific examples of the performance that generated the feedback. If tension fills the air, take a more positive approach by asking if the person can provide examples of the preferred behavior.
  • Stay calm. Even if you feel upset, try not to become defensive. Simply accept what is being said and deal with your emotions at a later time. Maintain your poise and composure, and focus on the rest of the feedback.

Keep in mind that giving feedback can be an uncomfortable experience, too. Someone cares enough about you and your performance to be uncomfortable themselves. Feedback is generally offered when the feedback provider feels that you can benefit from his or her observations. Try to remain engaged and receptive to the comments. This demonstrates your willingness to take the feedback seriously.

Always remember: Feedback is a gift if you choose to accept it the right way.

Do you need to offer feedback to someone else? Learn 7 tips for providing feedback effectively from the Dardis Communications blog.