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How to Receive and Process Feedback

Receiving feedback is a key element of growth, but it's not easy to hear critical feedback about your work. So how do you get better with receiving feedback?

Use these steps as your guide:

1. Resist the urge to respond immediately.

It's tempting to jump in right away with excuses, justifications, or devaluing statements like "that's not what I meant," or "you just don't understand" - but RESIST this temptation!

Instead of firing back with a response, listen to what the person is saying, acknowledge it, and thank them for coming to you with feedback. Let them know you'd like to take some time to process the feedback they've just shared, and you will circle back with them after you've had some time to digest the information.

2. Sit alone in a quiet space and use these prompts to process the information:

  • What feedback did I receive?

  • What parts of the feedback do I agree with? Why?

  • What parts of the feedback do I disagree with? Why?

  • Even if I disagree, can I see the issue from their perspective? If so, how?

  • Is there something I can improve upon or change moving forward?

  • What would I like to share with _________ as a response to the feedback?

  • Are there any follow-up questions I'd like to ask to receive more detail?

It can be helpful to write down some immediate responses/reactions and then come back the next day, revisit your answers, and add information after having more time to think and process.

3. After allowing 1-2 days to process the feedback, circle back.

It's important to circle back with the person who gave you the feedback, and there is a balance between allowing some time to process the feedback (1-2 days) and waiting too long (more than 3 days). If you allow more than a few days to pass after the initial conversation, it will become increasingly difficult to revisit the conversation - and tempting to never close the loop. Not only will this likely cause tension between you and the other person, it will reduce the likelihood they will come to you with feedback in the future.

As you get in the habit and practice of soliciting and listening to feedback, it will get easier to receive it and learn from it. It never gets truly easy to hear critical feedback - by nature it's an uncomfortable process (that's the point - to move you out of your comfort zone and into the growth zone) - but it does get easier.


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