The only way we know how others view our work or contribution is by way of feedback. Whether it comes from a superior, colleague, family member, or friend, you need to prepare yourself to receive it graciously and openly. If the people providing the feedback feel you’re welcoming of it, they, most likely, will be even more transparent, and you will get more out of it.
Not all feedback is easy to hear, so being gracious might take more effort than others in some situations. In those situations, it’s important to do the following:
Harness the Defensiveness
When you hear something unappealing about yourself, it’s human nature to defend your actions or demeanor. Instead, control it and remain approachable. This way, you get the most out of the feedback and can better yourself.
Listen to Understand
Most likely, the feedback you’re receiving isn’t delivered maliciously, so try to understand where the recipient is coming from and how the information can be helpful to your work or contribution. While the messenger is sharing the information with you, truly listen. Don’t spend the time thinking about how you want to respond.
Repeat What Was Said
The person giving the feedback should recognize that you are not only hearing what is said but are listening to it too. Therefore, as the messenger talks to you, try to hold off on forming an opinion until you’ve heard the entire explanation and processed it.
Ask Any Clarifying Questions
Just as a salesperson is taught to do, ask check-in questions throughout the conversation to show your interest in what the person is saying. The questions will help you understand what is being said. However, remember to be in the moment. Focus on what you’re being told, not what your response is going to be.
When you’re given feedback, look at it as someone taking the time out of their day to help you improve. So show your appreciation by thanking them. Doing so encourages the messenger to come to you in the future. And as hard as it might be to hear when the feedback isn’t favorable, feedback makes you better, so you should welcome it.
Not everyone has the same opinion. First, determine how reliable the feedback is by asking a trusted colleague if they agree with it. If only one person feels a certain way, it’s probably more about them than you. This is when you can choose to receive the feedback or forget it.
If the feedback you’re getting is critical, it can be hard to digest. However, it’s important to validate it if it’s legit because it will help you improve. Walking through that process, reflect and truly hear a person out before you react. Then, take the holes they bring to your attention and create a performance plan for how you fill them.
This practice might seem like you’re ripping yourself apart, which can be deflating. Be kind to yourself in the process and ask what it is you do best. Then, focus on those traits and build on them even more. You might think it’s best to focus primarily on what you can improve, but by understanding what you are already really good at and making it better, you become a more complete professional. In the long run, you’ll make yourself a more desirable job candidate when, and if, the opportunity presents itself.