Thanks for the Gift: 15 Tips on Responding to Feedback

Whether it is a 360 degree feedback tool, a performance review, or an organizational survey of some sort, getting feedback can be a challenging experience.  I have seen people cry, visibly get upset, seek retaliation, and even quit their jobs.  Many of us cannot help our reactions.  We, as human beings, are built to protect ourselves.  When we receive feedback that feels painful or is threatening to our self image we can respond more like 2 year old than a 40 year old.  Here are some tips on how we should view and handle feedback:

  1. Whatever you do, do not get defensive.  You asked for feedback and people gave it to you.  That feedback is an investment in you–a gift if you will.  They took a risk giving you such a personal gift so accept it with grace.
  2. When we ask others for feedback it increases their expectation that we will make positive changes.
  3. If you choose not to implement any changes based on the feedback, you will cause negative perceptions to occur.
  4. We tend to either accept feedback completely or denounce it completely, when in truth we should find a balance.
  5. You will not change anything if you do not believe in it.  Seek to understand the comments.
  6. Perception is reality.  Others will see things differently than we do.
  7. To truly accept the feedback you must analyze the data.  Think, think, think!
  8. Try to discover the “Whys.”  Why do they perceive my actions this way?
  9. We tend to focus on the negative, but we should acknowledge and leverage the positive
  10. Shore up any career limiting development areas.
  11. If you look hard enough you will usually find themes or patterns.
  12. Remember the Halo Effect. Certain events, especially recent, can influence the ratings overall.
  13. Involve others.  Share a summary of your results with others.  Get help from others.  It helps create success and trust.
  14. Be curious and open minded.
  15. Use the feedback to become more self aware and increase alignment with others with whom you work.

Remember this feedback is a snapshot of perceptions in a moment of time.  The feedback does not define you.  It is not who you are.  What you choose to do with the feedback does!

What tips can you share regarding feeback?     


2 thoughts on “Thanks for the Gift: 15 Tips on Responding to Feedback

  1. Hello

    Your tips for getting the best out of feedback are great. When helping people to understand and really use 360 Degree Feedback, my tips are:

    – Look for patterns and consistent messages coming from all your colleagues, or groups of colleagues if that’s the way the feedback’s been given. Don’t worry too much about the occasional, single low rating or negative comment, especially if no-one else has made the same observation.

    – We all have a tendency to focus on the negative; but try to see any negative as a proportion of the total. Just because they’re negative they don’t count for more than the positives!

    – Always find the learning. Negative perceptions may not be entirely accurate, but ask yourself where they might have come from

    – If you do feel stung by something your colleagues have said, don’t worry. As this article says, that’s very normal. Try to work through it, maybe talk in confidence to someone you trust, give yourself time to really process the message, decide what action to take, and move on. If you find you can’t move on, repeat the Work-Talk-Process-Action until you can.


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