How to Receive Feedback

The most important thing about feedback is the way it’s received.

How to receive feedback:

#1. Aspire to improve.

Aspiration makes feedback desirable. “Tell me how to improve.”

Poorly delivered feedback is useful to highly motivated people.

If Tom Brady’s coach points out a problem with his passing technique, Brady will thank him. It doesn’t matter if the coach smiles.

You can’t resist feedback and aspire to improve.

It’s nice if someone is polite when giving feedback, but the real question is will it help you move the ball forward.

Note: Bill Belichick doesn’t have to play football better than Tom Brady to be an effective coach. Coaching is a skill of its own.

#2. Believe you’re able to improve.

Helplessness resents feedback.

Explore specific actions that create momentum when receiving feedback. “What suggestions do you have that would move the ball forward?”

#3. Separate performance from self.

You aren’t your performance.

It stings to hear, “Your meetings are boring,” but that’s what you do, not who you are.

#4. Assume good intentions.

The person giving feedback is your friend, even if they’re rude.

#5. Set aside your good intentions.

You didn’t wake up intending to screw up.

Those who already know can’t grow.

Whisper in your own ear, “Maybe I’ll learn something.”

#6. Seek specifics.

“Your meetings are boring,” is useless.

What are you doing/not doing that causes boredom?

Useful feedback: “There were 10 people at the table, and you talked 60% of the time. How might participation by others increase?”

#7. Don’t make excuses.

Sentences that begin with, “That’s because,” end with excuses.

7 quick tips:

  1. Breathe.
  2. Lean in.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Focus on behaviors.
  5. Look forward more than backward.
  6. Ask for examples.
  7. Say, “Thank you. Tell me more.”

Feedback comes from someone who sees something you don’t.

How might leaders receive feedback?

What if the feedback is wrong?

Bonus material:

How to Receive Feedback (HBR)

6 Tips for Taking Feedback Well (Radical Candor)

How to Receive Feedback and Criticism (Forbes)