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Turn That Feedback Frown Upside Down: Tips to Gracefully Receive Feedback at Work

Dec 20, 2022 09:19 PM
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Let's be honest, no matter the method, receiving feedback at work (or in life) can easily feel like receiving criticism. This is amplified if the feedback was not solicited or deployed by someone who doesn't employ or manage you - ouch!

Yet, there are ways to receive feedback, even if it's delivered poorly or unexpectedly, with (total) grace. In doing so, you will exude professionalism and turn that feedback into opportunities to improve, evolve, and show your growth (turn that feedback frown upside down)! Heck, months down the road you could use that feedback and how you incorporated it into your role as an example for that raise or even office you've had your eye on.

So, here are our top tips for receiving feedback, directly:

  1. Treat the feedback like a gift: Do you receive a gift and look sad or look away? No! Maintain direct eye contact with the 'gift giver', nod your head, respond when appropriate, and give thanks. Displaying active listening shows that you are receptive to what is being said and open to improvement. 
  2. Ask questions:  If you feel open to the feedback and able to remove your emotions in the process, try asking exploratory questions to gain a deeper understanding of specific examples of the feedback, ways you can do better, and how it can improve your work or role for the organization and team.
  3. Reflect on it: Like any information or anything that is said about us (both good and bad) human error and interpretation are at play. You need to decide for yourself if the feedback provided was fair, true, helpful, and in alignment with your best interest - your growth. Take time to reflect on what was said, a few days even, maybe a week or a month, and forego a knee-jerk response to hearing something that may actually help you.
  4. Evolve and apply: Feedback done, questions asked, reflection over, lessons go! This is your change to improve, apply what you learned from the feedback and improve in your role and for your team.

In summary, feedback isn't easy to receive, particularly if you feel it's unhelpful. All feedback should be helpful otherwise it will feel like criticism and not serve its purpose. When listening to it, you need to take into account who is providing it, what the intention is, and if you feel it is fair and helpful.  From there, feedback is a surprisingly excellent springboard to improve your work and advance your career - a gift, really.