How to Behave When you Get Tough Feedback

When I was much younger, a boss of mine gave me some tough feedback. Basically she told me I was burnt out and my emotions were getting the better of me. When looking back, was absolutely true. She was blunt tough feedbackand to the point and it was just the feedback I should have gotten. So I listened, went home, looked in the mirror, and told myself that I was perfectly fine and she was the cause of my problems.

To make a long story short, I got fired.

I was too busy protecting my ego instead of working on what I needed to change. It’s like the quote from Lord Chesterfield – “Our own self-love draws a thick veil between us and our faults.”

So, how do YOU behave when you get tough feedback from your boss, colleague, coach, spouse? Take a second and think about a time when someone let you have it. How did you behave?

When it comes your way, don’t do the following:

  • Get defensive – It’s almost a guarantee you will, but try and recognize when you are doing it and stop.
  • Turn the table on the person giving the feedback – Don’t protect yourself by shooting back a round of negative feedback about them.
  • Make excuses, blame others, or try and explain-it-away – Don’t ask for specific examples then pick them apart or give reason why something happened the way it did. Simply listen and take responsibility.
  • Focus on how bad the feedback was delivered – Delivering tough feedback is never easy and some people stink at it. But remember, it is so much better than getting no feedback.

Here is how to take feedback and make it a learning opportunity:

  • Ask clarifying questions – What should you stop doing? What should you start doing?
  • Collect input from others – Share the feedback you got and get their perspectives. Just be careful not to use this strategy to completely refute the feedback.
  • Focus on the behaviors you can change and write up a plan – Show it to your boss or whomever gave you the feedback for their input.
  • Review your plan daily – Change is hard and needs to be a top priority for a while.
  • Seek out info from experts – Chances are whatever you need to work on someone is offering a book, training, post, podcast, etc. on the topic.

Most importantly tough feedback is a gift, be grateful you received it.

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