We often talk about the value of constructive feedback, but most of these conversations revolve around giving feedback. In truth, the effectiveness of this exchange has more to do with the person who receives said feedback than the one giving it. Simply put, people who accept feedback gracefully tend to be better at what they’re doing.
That said, many people are scared of feedback of any kind. This is understandable — nobody likes the idea of having someone tell them that they’re doing something wrong. If you’re struggling with receiving feedback, these four tips will help you get better at it.
- Recognize Good Intentions
The first thing to keep in mind about accepting feedback is that it’s meant to benefit you. The person offering you feedback isn’t doing so to hurt your feelings — they’re trying to point out something that they think will help you be a better person or a better worker. What’s more, they’re doing that knowing full well that you may not like what they have to say.
This is why it’s important to stop your first reaction upon hearing feedback. Take a deep breath, process the situation, and remind yourself that the other person is only trying to help.
- Listen With Understanding
Receiving feedback is all about listening carefully. Allow the other person to present his or her case without interrupting them. When they’re done, think about what you’ve heard and react accordingly. Focus on the feedback itself rather than the person giving it. Feedback can be constructive even when it comes from someone you may not care much about.
If the feedback seems rushed or incomplete, give them the benefit of the doubt. Giving feedback can be just as nerve-wracking as receiving it, especially when it comes from the heart.
- Ask Questions
If you’re not sure what to make of the feedback, ask questions about it. For instance, if your boss tells you to take more initiative, ask them for clarification. You should also ask questions if you don’t agree with what’s been pointed out. Though most feedback comes from a good place, there’s a chance that the person giving it is wrong about some details.
Asking questions about feedback is also a good way to show that you’re taking it seriously. It makes the whole process go much more smoothly.
- Follow Up if Necessary
By the time the conversation ends, you should have a good idea of what’s expected from you. If you’re dealing with a larger issue, though, you may want to ask for a follow-up meeting sometime in the future. This should give you more time to process the feedback you received, think about how to go about it, and ask other people for advice.
Regardless of whether you intend on following up or not, be gracious for the feedback. Remember: at the end of the day, the only purpose of constructive feedback is to help you.