Seeking Feedback the Right Way
Receiving negative feedback can be uncomfortable. Often, someone’s immediate reaction is to be defensive. But to grow personally and in your career, you need to be able to receive feedback—both good and bad.
3 Types of Feedback
There are three types of feedback: criticism, praise, and constructive criticism. Information that focuses on what needs improvement but doesn’t provide avenues for that improvement is criticism, and it's ultimately destructive. Praise entails personal judgments about a performance, effort, or outcome, and while it lets the person know they’re doing a good job, it doesn’t let them know how they can be doing better. Constructive feedback is specific, actionable, and allows for future improvements.
Constructive feedback is by far the most valuable of the three types, as it provides factual observations and leaves out personal feelings. A way to ask your managers and peers for constructive feedback is by asking leading questions, like, Did you encounter any problems with the assignment I turned in? Was there anything I could have done to improve the quality of the task I completed? Are there any improvements I can make that you’d find beneficial?
Asking for feedback shows that you want to adapt and grow. Your colleagues will appreciate that you’re willing to internally examine your performance and are seeking to improve.
Gaining feedback can also help you understand your position within an organization. You can get a better understanding of what’s expected from you and future career possibilities.
Respond the Right Way
When receiving feedback, it’s important to keep calm and go into the discussion with an open mind. These tips can help you respond to feedback the right way.
- Take a deep breath and don’t internalize the feedback
- Don’t argue, even if you disagree with what you’re hearing
- Ask clarifying questions to understand exactly what they’re saying; if necessary, ask if they can give you an example so you know exactly what they’re referring to
- Take time to absorb and reflect upon the information
- If you think the feedback is unfair, provide a written response or ask for a follow-up discussion
- Try to be objective, without letting emotions get in the way
- If the feedback was not constructive, seek out advice on how to make positive changes or improvements
Find a Mentor
Finally, consider finding a mentor. Having a mentor can help you with all aspects of career development, including gaining useful, actionable feedback.
A mentor can assist in asking your colleagues for feedback on your behalf. This also allows your colleagues to be open and honest when delivering feedback. Your mentor can then help you work on the feedback you receive.
Mentors can provide guidance, motivation, encouragement, and emotional support. They will also hold you accountable to the goals you set for yourself. If your company doesn’t offer a mentorship program, then look to your coworkers and peers for support. Anyone who has provided useful and trusted feedback in the past could be a good candidate.