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Can I give you some feedback?

How do you react when receiving feedback?

Ken Blanchard, the author of the One Minute Manager series of books, once described feedback as 'the breakfast of champions' but it doesn't always feel that way does it? Nobody particularly enjoys being criticised, but feedback is an important part of success in the workplace. As a business leader or employee, learning how to handle constructive feedback and not taking it personally is a key skill that can help you grow and learn without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. In this blog post, we’ll look at some tips on how to manage this in the workplace, so you don't let it stop progress towards achieving your goals and wider purpose.

Understand the source and intent of the feedback

When we receive constructive feedback, it can often leave us feeling hurt or defensive. However, it's important to take a step back and understand why the feedback is being given. Considering the source of the feedback and the intent behind it can allow us to decide what to do with it, offering valuable insight into how we can improve ourselves or our work. Is the person giving the feedback an expert in the field or someone who may lack knowledge? Is their intention to help us improve or is it about how they feel about what is happening? By answering these questions, we can shift our perspective and use the feedback appropriately as either a tool for growth or an opportunity to find out what's really going on.

Identify what you can learn from the feedback

When someone offers feedback or criticism, it's important to resist the urge to become defensive or dismissive. Instead, take a step back and try to view the feedback objectively. Is there any truth to what they're saying? Is there something about your behaviour, work, approach or attitude that could use some improvement? Assessing the feedback in this way allows you to gain useful insights that can help you become a better version of yourself. It also shows that you're open to feedback and committed to growth, which are valuable traits in any setting - whether it's the workplace or your personal relationships. So don't shy away from feedback - embrace it as an opportunity to learn and evolve.

Don't take it too personally

Receiving constructive feedback can be a daunting experience, especially when it's directed at something we've put significant effort into. However, it's important to remember that feedback is not usually a personal attack. Instead of getting defensive, try to listen actively to the comments and identify what can be constructively gleaned from them. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with every bit of feedback that comes your way, we should always try to look objectively at what has been said and if it really doesn't resonate with you, then use it as an opportunity to ask more questions to find out what's behind it and if that really isn't possible, it's worth sanity checking it with someone else who has been involved.

Speak up when needed

When faced with negative feedback, it can be easy to stay quiet and just take it. However, try to objectively ask yourself if there is any truth in it and if you really can't see it, it is important to stand up for yourself when you feel it is undeserved. Remember that your opinions and thoughts hold value too and should be heard. Don't be afraid to respectfully voice your disagreement and if appropriate, provide context for your actions, this can lead to really productive further discussion that will help all parties have a better understanding of what's going on and why and can often lead to stronger working relationships with your peers and prevent further misunderstandings in the future. So, take a breath do that objective review and if it doesn't feel right, speak up and ask questions.

Reflect on your response

It's easy to react impulsively to a situation especially if we feel under threat or that thing we are trying to achieve could be compromised, but if you have reacted to feedback or just accepted it without question, taking the time to think about how we could have responded differently and more constructively is key to becoming a better communicator. By analysing our past reactions, we can uncover patterns in our behaviour and identify areas where we need to improve. Constructive responses involve active listening, empathy, and the ability to view a situation from multiple perspectives. By adopting these qualities in our responses, we can build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively.

Move forward with grace

Negative feedback can be hard to swallow, but it doesn't have to define us. Moving forward with grace means letting go of any negative emotions that may have been caused by the feedback and keeping a positive attitude. It's important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and it's how we handle them that truly matters. Instead of dwelling on the feedback, feeling resentment or holding a grudge, try to find the lessons within it and use them to improve. Nelson Mandela famously said that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Resentment and grudges cause more harm to you than anyone else involved so for your own wellbeing, it's worth adopting a growth mindset and focusing on what you can learn from the situation and move forward with grace and resilience.

In conclusion, learning how to not take constructive feedback personally at work is an essential skill for any professional. Remember that sometimes criticism can be a valuable source of growth and perspective if you're able to identify and learn from it in the right way. Everyone has difficult moments when feedback hits too close to home and it's important to remember that it's okay to question it further if it doesn't feel right. Most importantly, don't forget to reflect on your response and move forward with grace. Keep in mind that how you choose to react says a lot about you as a person and can ultimately make or break future opportunities. With the right approach, you can take tough feedback in stride and grow from it.


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