Feedback can help you work through your weaknesses and blindspots, 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.
Why is Feedback Important?
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. Read on for four main reasons why feedback is important:
1. It helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses
Self-awareness gives us the ability to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. But because we are so emotionally tied to the things we do day-to-day — our job, our habits, our hobbies — we can’t exactly view our behaviors objectively. For example, you might enjoy writing, but think you’re a terrible writer (that’s because you have emotional ties to writing). If you allow other writers or readers to take a look, you’ll likely learn a thing or two, and perhaps even realize you are better than you thought. Don’t be afraid to get feedback from others — they can help you view things with a zoomed-out lens.
2. It allows us to adjust our behavior or performance to improve
Feeding off of the above, not only does feedback help you identify what you’re good at and what needs improvement, but it allows the opportunity to improve. Feedback is a rich resource — if you approach it with an open mind, you’ll be able to pull the information apart and take away the bits of knowledge that can actually leverage your performance. Think of it like a tool box. When given feedback, consider what new knowledge is being presented to you, if any, and how it is useful for your job.
3. It provides an opportunity for growth and development
Feedback from someone else can inspire great change. Imagine receiving advice from someone who you admire in your field. You’ll likely feel energized to reach greater heights. Now, keep in mind that you can learn something from anyone, even if you are senior to them in your industry. You’d be surprised what sorts of feedback can arise from the ingenuity of a younger generation. If you remember to remain hungry for knowledge and growth throughout your career, you’ll be able to welcome feedback from any direction.
4. It helps us maintain and improve our relationships with others
Another reason why feedback is so important is that it helps us maintain and strengthen the relationships around us. Within a team giving and receiving feedback effectively fosters trust and a sense of camaraderie. It enforces the value of teamwork, reassuring one another that you are all interested in improving and learning together. Sometimes reaching out to a professional peer outside of your organization can be just as impactful. Consider connecting with someone who you admire in, or adjacent to, your industry. Sharing with them that you admire the trajectory and accomplishments of their career will not only yield a new positive relationship, but might even unlock a conversation full of tips and feedback, allowing you the opportunity to absorb some of their expertise.
What are the Challenges of Receiving Feedback?
While feedback has many benefits to reap, it 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. To help you identify any roadblocks, we’ve outlined some of the reasons why it’s natural to butt heads with feedback.
1. We may have a fear of criticism or failure
If you have a fear of not being good enough, you aren’t alone. Majority of the working force experiences imposter syndrome from time to time throughout their career (and for some people, in their personal lives, too). Others face it constantly. That’s natural, but a fear of criticism or failure can make it challenging to receive feedback. While our minds feel as though it is a threat to our safety, it is important to remind yourself that we are all human and all face critiques from time to time.
2. We may feel defensive or take the feedback personally
Feedback can sometimes strike a nerve or trigger a defensive response. This could be because of the way the feedback was given to you, or it might be a result of some insecurities you harbor. Either way, however, the way you respond is completely up to you. It’s important to take a moment to cool down and dissect the situation at hand.
3. We may not be open to change or improvement
Change and improvement are essential for personal and professional growth, yet many people resist or struggle with embracing them. Comfort zones play a significant role in this. Change often entails venturing into the unknown, which can be intimidating and trigger fear of failure or uncertainty, whereas familiarity provides a sense of security and control. Hence why so many of us stick to the status quo!
Many of us are also fearful of failure, so we’ll repeat the same routines and habits without welcoming new ideas. But a fixed mindset is holding you back more than it is protecting you. That’s why an understanding of the benefits of change can help you challenge your resistance to it. While it’s good to be confident in what you do, it’s important to always make room for improvement.
How to Be Receptive to Feedback
Becoming more receptive to feedback is crucial for personal and professional development. It 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 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. The key here is to separate your self-worth from the feedback and approach it with an open mind.
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. Clarifying questions can help you gain a deeper understanding of the feedback and provide insights for actionable changes.
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 and help you process the feedback more effectively.
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. Take action on the feedback
Of course, the most important step is implementing the changes that the feedback suggests. 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.
The next step to taking action is creating 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.
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. Embracing feedback as a valuable tool for growth and improvement empowers you to reach your full potential, increase your self awareness, and foster stronger relationships with those around you. Ahead are the various benefits you can experience, in greater detail:
1. Improved performance
Firstly, improved performance is a direct outcome of being open to feedback. By actively listening and incorporating constructive criticism, individuals can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. Feedback provides valuable insights and guidance, helping individuals refine their skills, enhance their competencies, and ultimately achieve higher levels of performance.
2. Increased self-awareness
Increased self-awareness is another significant benefit of being receptive to feedback. Feedback acts as a mirror, reflecting our blind spots and revealing aspects of ourselves that may be hidden from our own view. When we are working so closely to something, we often can’t separate our bias from it, disabling us from noticing where changes should be made.
Feedback from someone else allows us to have a deeper understanding of our strengths, weaknesses, and behavioral patterns. With this self-awareness, we can make conscious choices to leverage our strengths and address areas that require development.
3. Stronger relationships
Something that is often overlooked when thinking about the benefits of feedback is the opportunity to strengthen our relationships. As mentioned earlier in this article, strong relationships are nurtured through feedback. When individuals are receptive to feedback, it fosters an environment of trust, respect, and open communication. Also, by actively implementing changes, we can better attune ourselves to the needs of those around us. By actively seeking and valuing the perspectives of others, relationships can grow stronger, leading to more effective collaboration and teamwork. What’s more, receiving feedback gracefully demonstrates humility and a willingness to learn, which builds positive connections and promotes a supportive culture.
4. More opportunities for growth
Being receptive to feedback also opens the door to more opportunities for growth. Feedback helps individuals identify potential areas to explore, expand their knowledge, and acquire new skills. It broadens horizons, exposes individuals to different perspectives, and encourages them to step out of their comfort zones. Embracing feedback as a catalyst for growth empowers individuals to continuously learn, adapt, and seize new opportunities.
Moreover, being open to feedback cultivates a growth mindset, which is essential for personal and professional development. It enables individuals to view setbacks and failures as learning opportunities rather than permanent limitations. With a growth mindset, individuals are more resilient, adaptable, and willing to embrace change.
Feedback is the hidden productivity gem that we can all get more use out of. With the right 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.
Embrace the feedback you receive, and use it as a stepping stone towards personal and professional growth. 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 to be more receptive to feedback and reap the many benefits it has to offer.