how to respond to feedback

‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’ as the saying goes, made famous by Ken Blanchard.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Without a good breakfast, we are deprived of the energy needed to get through the day.  In sports terms, feedback is the coaching needed for sports people to up their game and become champions. But this analogy also holds true outside of sports and can be applied to anyone, under any circumstance – both in one’s professional and personal life.

Feedback is essential at any place of work that wants to evolve and move forward.  Nobody generally denies the benefits that timely, truthful, and constructive feedback can reap. We all aspire to become better at what we do and to profit from it in the long run.

But if feedback is the breakfast of champions, what happens when what is served is not to our taste?  

How do we react when feedback is hard to digest? When it’s a difficult pill to swallow?  There is no quick fix response, but the answer lies mainly in accepting that essentially feedback is all about growth.

Even when we do not like or agree with what is being presented to us, responding to feedback is all about our personal and professional growth.  And the good news is, that responding to feedback is a skill that we can all learn how to develop.

The following are some takes on what you can do to cope better when you receive feedback, especially feedback you deem too harsh:

1. Take time to understand

We should not respond to feedback immediately, even if that is our first reaction. Time is needed to digest what you have just heard or read.  Confronting the feedback giver or making your grievances immediately obvious may cause you to do or say things that you may regret later.

In this case, when choosing between fight or flight, flight is the more cautious approach.  Fight would simply be acting on impulse – but then you would need to be prepared for damage control. More often than not, upon further reflection, you will realise that the feedback is being given to you for your benefit.

2. Take the rational route

This requires you to analyse the feedback rationally, devoid of the emotion that made you so angry and defensive initially.  This is where you need to consider how your self-perception and self-assessment possibly differs from how others view you.

3. Take action

This is when you actually respond to the feedback. Ask yourself:

  • Is it correct to some extent?

  • What actions can I take to improve?

  • Am I still convinced that it is not correct?

  • How will I approach the feedback giver?

  • Might the feedback giver have an agenda?

From feedback we continue to develop and grow. By taking the time to consider constructive feedback and respond accordingly, you can go from strength to strength in your career.

Fortunately, not all feedback is negative.  Sometimes it serves as a deserved pat on the back for the feedback receiver.  In this case it becomes the motivator to work more, resulting in a win-win situation for both worker and the organisation.

Here at Ceek, we believe in matching you with an employer or employee that has the same work ethic and values as you. If you’re looking for your next career opportunity or your next star candidate, get in touch with us today! 


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