Tips for Receiving Feedback: Employees & Managers

Opinions are like smart phones: nearly everyone has one. But when someone’s opinion is thrown at you as “constructive feedback,” what is your automatic, knee-jerk reaction?

If you can say, “I ask them to tell me more,” you deserve a pat on the back.

As humans, we tend to cut people off quickly to avoid being hurt or to put others on the defense when they approach us with a problem. While this might be perceived as pride or an ego issue, it’s actually more innate to our fight-or-flight response.

The challenge is winning control over this innate response, and that takes a lot of practice and discipline.

What’s the best approach for accepting feedback? Here are our five tips.

Receiving Feedback Tip 1: Start with, “Tell me more.”

Sometimes people speak before they think and end up saying something offensively, simply because it came out wrong. Always give others the option to restate what they said to ensure you heard them correctly. Another way to say this is, “I appreciate you sharing feedback with me. I would love to hear more of what you are saying.”

Receiving Feedback Tip 2: Take a moment to summarize what the feedback was.

Ask, “Is there anything else?” and then summarize what they said to have them double check the facts. This will help the person know that you hear them and are trying to understand.

Receiving Feedback Tip 3: Ask for specific recommendations.

When you’re feeling open for more feedback, ask the person, “How could I have done that better?” When they give you a suggestion, ask for specific details and clarification to help you understand clearly.

Receiving Feedback Tip 4: Thank them for the feedback. 

While you might feel momentarily deflated, tell the person thanks for caring enough to say something. It takes courage to speak up, and courage to accept criticism as constructive feedback.

Receiving Feedback Tip 5: Establish follow-up.

Depending on your personal or work relationship, you might provide a follow-up plan for what you are going to do in a future situation. Consider asking them to watch and see how you’re doing, or to provide more feedback the following day/week/month. Establishing a follow-up plan shows you’ve been listening, expresses your genuine intentions to improve, and builds trust.

When it comes to receiving feedback, it’s more important to be approachable than it is to be right. Practice the above tips in both your professional and personal life and you’ll see a significant improvement in relationships.

For more HR tips and advice, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.

Tips for Receiving Feedback

Whether you’re an employee or a manager, being able to receive feedback is a critical life skill.

Emily Kranendonk, MHR

Author Emily Kranendonk, MHR

Emily has a Master’s degree in HR and several years of experience as an HR Generalist, with specialties in training & development and recruiting. While she’s a worldwide traveler that has explored South Africa, Norway, Iceland, and France, she also loves to kayak, paddle board, paint her fingernails, and eat anything with salsa on it.

More posts by Emily Kranendonk, MHR