The toughest feedback is usually worth processing

Giving feedback is a true talent. I know only a few people who can give constructive feedback with the emotional intelligence required for the receiver to actually be able to understand the message.

Receiving feedback can be also considered as a talent. A talent that will benefit mostly the feedback receiver in the long run.

It doesn’t’ feel that nice to get feedback from something you screwed up. You already know, things went south and response to that is going to be negative. You also know if it’s badly given you might feel emotionally knocked out after it. Defenses rise the moment someone is about the open their mouth. That’s what at least used to happen to me.

But how could you turn the tables and see the feedback as a place to grow without weeks of emotional turbulence, planning counter strikes, and evolving conspiracy theories.

Power of constructive criticisms

Sometimes, well-timed feedback is a turn that can save your career or lift you to the next level. I’ve learned to treat anyone giving me any kind of constructive feedback as a friend instead of an enemy since they do that to make you notice what you did and get better at it, while the enemy would shut up and watch you drown next time you face the same issue.

Even if current leadership- trends underline the importance of giving feedback, in my experience constructive feedback is rarely given. With the feedback here, I mean the kind of feedback that has some meaning and helps you to improve your performance. “You did good” or “you could improve your performance” doesn’t really count as something you can work with to get better. One could ask if not getting feedback is also on kind of feedback, at least about the company’s culture.

For example, within four-year employment, I remember well the two times I got feedback, (neither of those from my boss). Those were one of the best-given feedbacks of constructive criticism I’ve ever had. I was able to learn about my self because that person actually listened to what I said and gave me an alternative angle for the subject.

Tips for receiving feedback

I made a list to myself how to receive feedback based on the HBR article

  • Listen to the feedback given and don’t interrupt. Hear the person out, and listen to what they are really saying, not what you assume they will say.
  • Be aware of your responses. Distancing your emotional self.
  • Don’t try to prove someone is wrong. We become easily close-minded to the useful information that may be hidden in the poorly presented feedback. This means being receptive to new ideas and different opinions.
  • Ask to clarify. Putting yourself in the shoes of the other one. Make sure you understand what is being said to you, especially before responding to the feedback. Ask questions for clarification if necessary.
  • Assess the value of the feedback, the consequences of using it or ignoring it, and then decide what to do because of it. Your response is your choice.
  • Follow up. There are many ways to follow up on feedback. Sometimes, your follow-up will simply involve implementing the suggestions given to you. In other situations, you might want to set up another meeting to discuss the feedback or to re-submit the revised work.
  • Let it go. Learn from your mistakes, and move on

Life goes on after the feedback

Early in my career, we had an organizational change that I was asked to drive. The best advice that I received from an older colleague was “Listen to the most disagreeing arguments carefully, and think if we forgot something or should have done something differently.”

If nothing else, show that you have the seniority to deal with the feedback and constructive criticism and always thank the person who has taken the time and effort to bring the message to you. Show them you’ve accepted the feedback since accepting doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Consider the situation the other way around, and acknowledge that giving feedback is not the easiest nor always the nicest thing to do.

The nicest thing to do would be to take time and analyze how you took the feedback and return with your analysis to the person who gave the original feedback. That’s also one way to tell “I heard you, but next time I would hear you even better if you’d act a bit differently”

But then, remember to close it off. Don’t over-apologize. Apologize once if necessary, sincerely, and maturely. Remember that criticism and negative feedback are a fact of life. Learn from your mistakes, and move on.

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