How to Give Feedback About Feedback

Getting negative comments or feedback about your work can sometimes feel very shocking, especially if you thought everything was running smoothly. But even when the feedback is needlessly cruel, overly harsh, or downright inaccurate, responding defensively is never the right answer. An angry reaction won’t help the situation—even if the criticism was totally unfounded.

When faced with feedback, you should always take a some time to listen to what’s being said. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss out on the value of the feedback. Relax, take a deep breath, listen to or read the feedback, and then offer a positive corrective action, an acknowledgement, or simply an sympathetic ear.

All Feedback is Beneficial: Even the Negative

Feedback—both positive and negative—can be crucial to your ability to get along with other people, to respond to public concerns, to sell your product, and to the overall future growth of your business and your career. If you’re prepared to receive it, negative feedback in particular can be very useful, as it shows you what you do that people really appreciate (or don’t appreciate), and how you can be a better performer or listener.

The Five Rules Everyone Should Follow
when Responding to Feedback

Whether your feedback is from a customer, a coworker, a manager, or a direct report, your approach to responding should always be the same:

  1. Decide what you’re willing to share. Assume that anything you say is going to get out and could potentially be misinterpreted.
  2. Go for the positive. Thank the other person for sharing their thoughts, apologize even if it wasn’t your fault, and do what you can to make the situation better.
  3. Never take feedback too personallyespecially if it’s positive. When you confirmation that you’ve been doing something right (or wrong), don’t let it go to your head. Instead, commit to doing it more often (or less often) and better.
  4. Don’t lie, and put a stop to any lies that have started. When words get twisted or personal, declare that “I’m sorry to make you feel that way, and thank you for letting me know. I’ll do everything I can to make sure this situation isn’t repeated.”
  5. If the feedback wasn’t for you but you feel like you must intervene, don’t dwell on the past. Focus on how things could be improved in the future.

In the End

Responding to feedback is all about acceptance and understanding. Receiving feedback effectively is just as important as delivering it effectively. When employees and managers turn away and ignore feedback that they don’t like, they perpetuate a cycle of ineffectiveness. Instead, treat every exchange of feedback as an opportunity to become better a better manager or employee, offer a better service, become a better listener, or even be a better person.

Ultimately, even though all feedback is valuable, some types are better than others. When you receive feedback that isn’t helpful, it’s in everyone’s interest to work to make it better. Once you’ve solved the immediate concern, offer suggestions for how feedback could have been more specific, received a better response, or gotten its message across more quickly.

If you fail to respond to your feedback, you can appear despondent and uncaring. And if you fail to give feedback about your feedback, your peer will never know if they were helpful or not. Growing a business, and growing within a business, are all about learning what works and what doesn’t. Feedback is the perfect way to get things right.

Get, give, and respond to feedback, then store it for future reference, draw it into a performance review, or apply it as a tracked goal. Start using 360 Social Feedback in TribeHR today.


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