How To Be Receptive To Feedback

Feedback can help you work through your weaknesses and help you become a more effective leader, showing you a new technique or path that you haven’t yet realized. Unfortunately, many of us are quick to close ourselves off to feedback.

Whether you have negative associations with critiques or view feedback as fire for your insecurities, you may be missing out on taking in the valuable information it provides.

Feedback is meant to help you improve, not tear down your confidence or wreck your ego.

Learning how to be receptive to feedback can help us improve our performance, build stronger relationships, and become more self-aware. It’s basically free knowledge.

In this article, we’ll explore why feedback is so important, discuss the challenges of receiving feedback, and provide actionable tips to help you become more receptive to feedback.

What Is Feedback?

Feedback is the information we receive from others about our performance, behavior, or skills. It can come in many forms, like verbal or written comments, evaluations, or observations. Feedback can be positive, emphasizing our strengths, or it can be constructive, focusing on areas where we could improve. It serves as a basis for improvement, decision-making, and self-awareness, allowing individuals and systems to adjust and evolve based on the received information.

Why Is Feedback Important?

There are many reasons as to why feedback is important. Simply put, feedback is essential for growth. It’s not enough to give someone a grade without context or a “good job” without specifying what exactly stood out. Getting into detail on why something was successful (or not) is what garners future success. It points out your strengths and weaknesses so you are better able to identify what works and what needs work. It also employs self-awareness.

Research has shown that being receptive to feedback can significantly enhance career development and success. Receptivity to feedback involves being open to considering and acting upon the information provided, which can lead to self-awareness, behavioral reinforcement, and change. This openness allows individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses, thereby facilitating continuous learning and improvement.

Being receptive to feedback can foster better relationships with colleagues and superiors, as it demonstrates a willingness to learn and adapt. It can also lead to increased job satisfaction, as individuals who actively seek and accept feedback are more likely to feel competent and valued in their roles. Therefore, being open to feedback is scientifically proven to be beneficial for career advancement and success.

How Can You Manage Your Emotions While Receiving Feedback?

Managing emotions while receiving feedback can be challenging, but it is crucial for personal and professional growth. According to the research, feedback is meant to foster self-awareness and behavioral change. However, the brain’s natural tendency to go into fight or flight mode when threatened can make receiving feedback an emotional experience. This is because negative feedback can threaten our natural desire to belong, leading to heightened emotions. To manage these emotions, it is important to understand that constructive feedback is not a personal attack but a tool for improvement.

The key to managing emotions during feedback is changing the perception of feedback from negative to constructive. The research suggests that feedback recipients must be receptive and accurately understand the feedback to benefit from it. This involves being open to considering the feedback and acting on it if change is warranted. It also involves determining the meaning and veracity of the feedback. By viewing feedback as an opportunity for growth and not a threat, one can prevent the brain from eliciting defensive reactions. This shift in perception can help manage emotions, making the feedback process more productive and less stressful.

How To Be Receptive To Feedback: A 7-Step Guide

Becoming more receptive to feedback allows us to gain valuable insights, identify areas for improvement, and enhance our relationships with others. Below are some key ways to cultivate an attuned attitude towards feedback. By incorporating these practices into your approach to feedback, you can develop a more receptive mindset. 

1. Set aside your ego and be more open-minded

Firstly, setting aside your ego is essential. Recognize that feedback is not a personal attack, but rather an opportunity to grow and improve. None of us are perfect! Accept that you may have areas where you can improve and be willing to learn from others.

Approaching feedback with an open mind means you are ready to consider different perspectives and opinions. Adopting this mindset will make it easier to accept feedback and incorporate it into your personal or professional development.

2. Listen attentively

Listening attentively is a fundamental aspect of receiving feedback effectively. Give the person your full attention, maintain eye contact, and avoid interrupting. Show genuine interest in what they have to say, and refrain from becoming defensive or dismissive. Active listening is crucial when receiving feedback! It’s good practice to listen without thinking about how you will reply. When you listen for the sole purpose of replying, your attention is placed on yourself rather than fully absorbing what the other person is trying to communicate.

3. Ask clarifying questions

Asking clarifying questions demonstrates your commitment to understanding the feedback better. Seek specific examples or suggestions for improvement. For example, if your boss suggests that you can tighten your scope for an upcoming study, you may want to ask them to specify which detail is worth narrowing in on.

If you’re unsure about anything, take a moment to reflect and see if the answer is sitting right in front of you. If not, then ask! This will demonstrate your willingness to learn, help you gain a deeper understanding of the feedback, and provide insights for actionable changes.

4. Thank the person for their feedback

Express gratitude to the person providing feedback, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their perspective. Thank the person for taking the time and effort to provide their insights. This shows that you value their input and fosters a positive environment for future feedback. Moreover, by expressing gratitude, you are reminding those around you that you are a team player.

5. Reflect on the feedback

Before you make any changes, start by reflecting on the feedback. Take the time to process the information and figure out how it aligns with your goals and values. If you’ve received feedback from a respected individual in the field, consider how their experiences make their advice a good match for your trajectory. 

Reflecting allows you to gain perspective and identify areas where you can make meaningful changes. After that, you’ll determine which aspects are most important and relevant to your growth. It’s not always possible or necessary to address every piece of feedback immediately. By prioritizing, you can focus on specific areas and allocate your time and energy effectively.

6. Take action to improve based on feedback

After reflecting, you should create an action plan. Although it seems obvious, a lot of people skip this part. Break down the feedback into actionable steps that you can take. Set specific goals and timelines for improvement. 

Consider seeking additional resources or support to help you implement the necessary changes successfully. And don’t forget to regularly monitor your progress. Check in on your action plan and evaluate how well you are implementing the feedback. Be honest with yourself about your successes and challenges.

7. Regularly seek feedback

Once you’ve gone through this feedback cycle, keep going! Rather than waiting for feedback to come your way, be proactive in seeking it out. Regularly ask colleagues, friends, mentors, or supervisors for their insights on your performance or behavior. This proactive approach not only prepares you mentally for feedback but also shows others that you are dedicated to personal and professional growth. Moreover, it normalizes the feedback process, making it a routine and expected part of your interactions. When feedback becomes commonplace, it reduces the sting of potential criticism and emphasizes its role as a constructive tool for improvement.

What Are The Challenges Of Receiving Feedback?

While feedback has many benefits to reap, many challenges come along with receiving it.

Feedback isn’t always easy to receive — especially if we fear confrontation. And if you aren’t used to receiving it, feedback can feel negative.

On the contrary, receiving positive feedback can also be challenging for some people — they may feel awkward or not know how to take a compliment. Either way, it can be an obstacle.

Overcoming the challenges of being open to feedback requires a combination of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a growth mindset. It’s essential to recognize and acknowledge your own emotional responses to feedback. By understanding the root of defensive feelings or anxieties, you can better navigate them. Remind yourself that feedback is an opportunity for growth, not an attack on your abilities or character.

What Are The Benefits of Being Receptive to Feedback?

Being receptive to feedback is a transformative mindset that offers a multitude of benefits, enhancing various aspects of personal and professional life. We outlined 11 benefits of being receptive to feedback and examined how each benefit can lead to greater growth and success.

Embracing feedback as a valuable tool for development and improvement empowers you to reach your full potential, increase your self awareness, and foster stronger relationships with those around you. It can help boost your self-esteem and confidence, as you’ll be able to see yourself improve and can be proud of the work you put in. By developing an openness to feedback, you can show your colleagues how committed you are to growth and continuous learning.

Start Handling Feedback The Right Way Today!

Feedback is the hidden productivity gem that we can all get more use out of. With a receptive mindset (like fostering a growth mindset and truly understanding the benefits and relevance of change) and the right environment (creating a supportive environment is key), you can learn how to benefit from it and make serious improvements in your professional life. 

Receiving feedback can be challenging, but it’s essential to remember that it’s an opportunity for improvement. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can learn how to be more receptive to feedback and reap the many benefits it has to offer.

Related Articles

How To Develop Conflict Resolution Skills: 7 Easy Steps
Show All Professional Development articles

Sign up to receive regular insights on talent