The Intimidating World of Feedback  – 5 Actionable Tips to Receive Feedback Effectively

If you've ever felt a pang of unease at the prospect of receiving feedback, you're not alone. 

Today, we're discussing the sometimes-intimidating world of feedback, a critical component of personal and professional development. Feedback is a topic that can stir up apprehension and defensiveness, but it's also an area that, when followed, has the potential for transformative growth.

Why does feedback make us nervous? The mere mention of the word often evokes feelings of anxiety and resistance. We instinctively brace ourselves, preparing for what we fear may be an onslaught of criticism or judgment.

To fully get the benefits of feedback, it's essential to reframe our perception and recognize its true purpose: feedback is not the enemy but a trusted ally in our journey to self-improvement.

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If feedback intimidates you, let's explore the idea of feedback as a compass guiding us toward personal growth. A compass doesn't pass judgment or belittle us; it merely points us in the right direction.

Similarly, feedback is not a personal attack but a valuable gift wrapped in constructive observations. It serves as a catalyst for growth and improvement rather than a critique of our abilities or worth. The key lies in embracing a mindset that allows us to see feedback as an invaluable tool in our professional toolbox.

The question then is: Whose feedback merits our attention, allowing us to take it to heart? Discernment is essential here. Remember, not all feedback carries equal weight. Take time and seek out trusted individuals who genuinely want to see us succeed and know us well enough to provide meaningful insights. 

Look for people who genuinely have your best interests at heart—people who know you and your work well enough to provide insightful, meaningful comments.

Trusted mentors, peers, leaders, or customers who understand your field or area of focus can offer feedback grounded in expertise and sound judgment. Their feedback can serve as a valuable compass, helping you navigate the path to improvement and success.

Feedback works when it drives you to action and generates tangible results. I can personally attest to that.

A few weeks ago, I asked for feedback on a presentation I delivered to a group of HR professionals here in Houston. I was confident in my message, as it was a speaking presentation I had given many times. However, the feedback I received opened my eyes to an area for improvement - the aesthetics of my slides.

The feedback was constructive and spot-on: "Presentation was really good, but your slides looked a bit dated, in my opinion." While initially a little surprised, I took this feedback to heart, seeing it as a gentle nudge to refresh and upgrade my presentation materials.

The result? I recently presented again, this time with an updated slide deck that I was proud to share. I felt that the improvement in the slides enhanced my overall presentation, and I was grateful for the feedback that sparked this positive change.

Despite its potential to cause angst, the ability to receive feedback effectively is an indispensable tool for self-improvement. It's a vital ingredient for personal and professional growth, a resource that, when embraced, can dramatically elevate our capabilities and help us achieve excellence.

Effectively receiving feedback requires us to adopt a receptive mindset, seek input from reliable sources, and take action based on constructive criticism.

Remember, receiving feedback isn't about highlighting our shortcomings; it's about revealing growth opportunities. Let's not shy away from this invaluable resource. Instead, let's embrace feedback, using it as a stepping stone to higher levels of achievement in our professional journey.

All that said, you may be wondering how to receive feedback effectively. So here are a few tips you can use.

5 Actionable Tips to Receive Feedback Effectively

Develop a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck an American phycologist, is known for her work on mindsets. She defines a growth mindset as a believe that intelligence, abilities, and talents can be developed and improved over time through dedication, hard work, and learning from experiences. 

When you perceive feedback as an opportunity for growth, you're more likely to accept it openly and use it to improve. Remember, feedback isn't about your inherent worth, but about providing you with insights to help you learn, take action and grow.

Listen Actively

Many times, when a person is receiving feedback, their minds start to chatter and defend their actions. Take in what is being said and listen actively. Ask clarifying questions and do not rush in defending or justifying yourself.

Resist the urge to interrupt or argue even if you disagree. Instead, relax and focus on understanding where the person giving you the feedback is coming.

Reflect Before Responding

After receiving feedback, take some time to process it before responding. This can help to mitigate initial emotional reactions and allow you to approach the feedback from a more objective standpoint. Reflection also enables you to identify actionable steps for improvement.

Seek Clarification

If you're unsure about certain points, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. If feedback is vague, such as "you need to be more professional," ask for specific examples. The more concrete the feedback, the more useful it will be for your growth.

Create an Action Plan

Once you've received and processed the feedback, create a clear plan outlining how you'll implement the suggested changes. This might involve setting specific goals, seeking additional training, or requesting regular check-ins with your supervisor or mentor to track your progress.

Effectively receiving feedback is mindset and a skill that can be learned and refined. By following these steps, you can transform feedback from a source of anxiety into a powerful tool for professional development and career success.

Remember, the goal isn't to be perfect, but to continuously learn, grow, and improve.

I truly believe that if you allow it, feedback can be the changing direction in your life.


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