People holding 5 starts for feedback - artwork

7 Precious Tips To Help You Get Better At Actually Accepting Feedback.

Artwork showing 5 people holding 5 starts for feedback

You Need To Know My Advice On How To Accept Feedback Positively.

The word feedback brings to mind a negative connotation, isn’t it? We always feel that it’s about giving inputs about improvements and hence its about finding faults. Therefore, when someone says I have some feedback for you, we immediately get our defence mechanism up as we feel that there is something “not so good” coming our way.

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Well, that’s the human mind for you, always on edge, always doubting himself/herself and our capability. Hence we are not very receptive to feedback.

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Let’s look at Feedback as a word. Feedback is made up of two words- Feed & Back.

Feed means to Give Something, Back means to Return

So, in literal sense I can say Feedback means to give something in return to something we have received.

Therefore, I may have given something to someone, and the person is responding in return.

Hence feedback is mostly in response to something. Therefore, we are also an important part of this feedback process, and it’s not only about the person giving feedback. It’s about us too. Just hold this thought here, and I will come back to it.

Before getting into how to take constructive criticism, let’s look at why most of us don’t like feedback or get defensive immediately, especially when faced with negative feedback.

Why It is So Hard To Accept Negative Feedback?

1. Authority Of The Person Concerned

Often, we feel that the person giving feedback does not have enough authority or does not know the subject well enough to comment on our output—irrespective of the fact that even I may not know much either.

I am guilty of this as I get sometimes really cheesed off when people tell me how to manage my teen girls, especially when they don’t have parenting experience or handling teen daughters.

2. I Know Everything

This time it’s the other way around. We feel we know everything, and the person giving us feedback either does not have enough experience or knowledge to give feedback.

The classic teen parent arguments where parents think they know everything and teens are hellbent on proving us wrong. And sometimes, we do get proven wrong.

3. Efforts Vs Result

I am sure most of you went through this in your early years of working when your boss rejected every presentation you made.  You feel your boss must see the effort put in by you even though the output fell short. But that’s not how things work, unfortunately.

End Result dictates how people react most of the times.

4. He/She Does Not Like Me

Have you ever made these statements in frustration – He/she does not like me hence will always give me negative feedback.  Or this person always has a biased towards me. This can be true or just our imagination, but it definitely impacts our openness to take constructive feedback.

5. I Know The Feedback is Authentic

In this case, I know what the other person is saying is right, but I don’t want to admit it. Maybe by admitting, I will need to rework or apologise or maybe act in a way I am not comfortable doing. So, the best thing is not to accept feedback.

Here are my top 5 reasons for being defensive while accepting feedback, and I confess that I still struggle with these. Do you too? If you do, then what are you doing about it?

Lady looking at feedback rating

I am consciously working on accepting feedback positively, and there are a few things that are working for me. Again, these are tips I have learned over time after observing people at my workplace and personal life.

Before we move ahead, a disclaimer, please. These are my practical suggestions to respond to constructive criticism. If these don’t work for you, you may want to seek professional help.

How To Accept Feedback Gracefully Using These 7 Amazing Tips.

1. Stop Being Defensive- Be Open

Illustration showing having mind which is locked

When I say be open, I mean to be ready to accept that someone may have a different opinion than yours and hence giving you feedback. I know it’s tough, especially when it involves who is giving the feedback. Going back to our defence mechanism points 1 & 2.

Let me give you an e.g., from my work life.

I headed the Project management portfolio in my earlier company and had a team of 13 project managers reporting to me. They were all at different levels of experience and expertise. But I still valued their feedback as they interacted with clients and key stakeholders and helped me measure the ecosystem’s pulse.

If you want to be true to yourself and really improve as a person, start with an open mind. Read more about this in my blog Be Your Authentic Self With These 9 Amazing Principles.

2. Reflect On The Feedback

Lady seeing reflection in her sunglasses

We have this habit of immediately retorting the moment someone tells us something which we don’t agree to. Let’s do this instead.

  • Listen Attentively
  • Breath
  • Process the content
  • Respond if necessary

In the last one, I have added if necessary because you may decide not to respond at all. Sometimes just a simple OK is enough.

There are three benefits of not responding immediately.

  • It gives you time to think about the feedback shared.
  • It gives you time to frame an appropriate response which sometimes maybe complete contrary to what you would have done in the heat of the moment.
  • Not getting the desired reaction, the other person may be forced to rethink his feedback in some cases.

I have seen this approach work, especially with peers and co-workers, as many times, their feedback is based on how their day is going or what feedback they have received from someone else. I have elaborated on this point later in the write-up.

Therefore, RESPOND rather than REACT.

3. Filter the Noise

Lady concentrating & filtering out the noise

Sometimes negative feedback may be accompanied by a lot of noise, i.e., anger/accusations/unpleasant remarks etc. It is up to us and our maturity levels to filter out unnecessary noise and focus on the core inputs for our consumption.

E.g., I again go back to my parenting teens experience. I have seen that teens tend to react, and we counter, and in the bargain, the core issue gets lost. Our teens may be giving us valuable feedback in their reactions, too (I call this the Reverse Parenting approach).

So, try to listen to the core issue and filter out the rest.

4. Seek Opportunity To Learn And Grow

Use feedback to grow

Constructive feedback is very vital for you to learn from and grow as a person and a professional. This positive approach will help us to take anything coming our way in our stride. You will be at least open to listening. Remember, you always have an option to accept or reject the feedback.

When I started my blogging journey, I learnt how to receive feedback positively to improve my writing skills. I tried to incorporate all the feedback in my work, and I am definitely a better writer than I was when I started almost a year back.

5. Manage Your Perception

Managing perceptions- green apple looking like red apple

The feedback that you get, especially as a person, may not be true. But it definitely is a mirror to how people around you perceive you.

The first step, in this case, is to accept that there is a disconnect between your authentic self and people’s perception of you. For some, this may be by design, and they would prefer it that way. While for others, it may be alarming, and a course correction is necessary.

When I started work, I was considered very snobbish, aloof, and a very critical coworker. Surprisingly I was completely oblivious of this fact. I was happy with the fact that I was doing what I was supposed to do. But when I got this feedback, it was disturbing because it was quite contrary to my actual self. Needless to say, I worked upon it and managed to change the perceptions of people around me.

6. Sometimes It’s Not About You

Back of people wondering whats happening

Let’s accept it. Sometimes it’s not about you. Maybe the other person had a bad day or is reacting to someone else’s feedback.

The human being is a sum total of his upbringing and experiences that shape his personality. His attitude, mindset, actions & reactions are influenced by this journey. So the person’s feedback can either be an outcome of his life journey or an exception due to the circumstances. Therefore there may be something more than what meets the eye for why a person reacted in a certain way.

E.g., a situation like the pandemic will have a lasting impact on a person’s attitude, mindset & hence his reactions. I have discussed in detail in my blog – 7 Harmful Habits You Need To Stop Now.

Therefore sometimes it’s better to just hear a person out without any reaction.

But keep in mind this option to be used sparingly otherwise we may lose out on some valuable inputs.

I can quote numerous instances in my work life, where people have reacted negatively to me or my team members  only because they had a bad interaction with their seniors.

7. Know When to Disconnect

Lady cutting the rope to disconnect

There are all kind of people in this world and hence different opinions and feedbacks. Some feedbacks don’t serve any purpose except to disturb your peace of mind.

Suppose you come across such feedbacks, its best to reason out with the concerned person. If things get sorted, great, but if not, it’s better to agree to disagree and part ways.

Being open to feedback is good, but if the feedback is not adding any value but reducing your peace of mind, it is better to eliminate it from the equation—this option to be exercised only after considering all the above 6 variables.

While we are talking about receiving feedback, remember you are also a giver of feedback. It would be prudent to keep the above in mind while giving feedback to provide a useful exercise for both the giver and the recipient.

And yes, as parents of teens, I try to reiterate these points with my daughters so that they become more open to receiving feedback and make the best of it.

Lady making a face with feedback cutout

Needless to say, I seek your honest feedback on this one and whether you found this blog useful. If yes, please do share with someone who will benefit from this.

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A big thanks to my sister Dr Minni Chadha for the beautiful artwork. This was a tough one to illustrate, but she did a fantastic job as always.

Knowing These 7 Amazing Tips Will Help You Accept Feedback Gracefully.

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Rippy Gauba
Rippy Gauba

I am a working professional and a mom of 2 teen daughters. After having worked in the corporate world for 22 years, I am now a free-lance consultant specialising in project management. I am very passionate about spending quality time with my family, my pet CoCo, painting and blogging.

I write on Mindset, Motivation & Management. These are everyday, practical tips I picked up from my personal & professional life. These learnings have impacted my life as an individual, as a parent and as a working professional. I am sure these will be useful for you too and help create Ripples of change in your lives & that’s my intention.

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9 thoughts on “7 Precious Tips To Help You Get Better At Actually Accepting Feedback.”

  1. Dr Minni Chadha?

    Interesting take on the topic…
    Yes… we have to be open to criticism also as it helps us to change & grow …So in a way any negative feedback works out in our favour as it makes us aware of our shortcomings & helps us to change for better….
    And of course positive feedback always makes us feel good…
    But our day or life should not be governed by these feedbacks as they fluctuate in nature with the moods of the people …
    So we just have to learn to take them all in our stride…enjoy the positive ones… learn from the negative ones.

    1. Thank you for sharing your feedback and you are very right. It all starts with an intention which is very necessary for any change. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback on my blogs. I really look forward to that. 

  2. Lokesh Chandra

    Many of us take negative feedback as criticism because it sounds opposite to our thought process or preset notions.. but as rightly said by you, we should use it to grow as better and more mature person.. on a lighter note, positive feedbacks are rare even from best of your buddies and even family members ??.. so it’s better to grab positive feedbacks to give us a feel good factor and stay positive..

    1. Thank you for sharing your feedback. Yes, let’s grab that positive feedback whenever we get it. But negative feedbacks are also welcome for our improvements. Have a great day, and please do keep on sharing your valuable feedback n my blogs. I really look forward to that.

  3. Very explicitly said. Feedback is very important it makes us feel that we matter in a way. They r always welcome if they help us to assess ourselves be it positive or negative… love your blogs…and amazing art by your Sis as always?

  4. Pingback: 13 Important Life Lessons I Learned From Blogging - My Ripple Effect

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