How to Accept Feedback at Work

Feedback from your boss and colleagues is a great way to grow on the job. Learning how to accept feedback at work with grace might be crucial to your success in your professional life. Giving consideration to the thoughts of others shows you’re humble and willing to learn. Learning how to accept feedback at work ultimately makes you better at your job.

You can leverage feedback at work to your advantage. Here’s how to accept feedback at work:

  • Actively listen
  • Ask questions
  • Summarize the feedback
  • Be gracious and courteous
  • Make a development plan
  • Take action
  • Follow up

When armed with the right know-how, you’ll be able to accept both positive feedback and negative feedback graciously. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism and make the most of your feedback opportunities.

How to Accept Feedback at Work Like a ProHow to Accept Feedback at Work Like a Pro

In many cases, someone taking the time to give feedback and share his or her point of view has good intentions. One of the most crucial steps in accepting feedback is understanding their goodwill. Rather than getting upset over the thought of negative feedback, take time to reflect and recognize the giver’s good intentions. This builds openness to feedback and poises you to receive feedback meaningfully.

However, there’s more to accepting feedback at work than just understanding intent. Check out the following tips on how to accept feedback at work and get ready to grow.

Be an Active Listener

If a leader or colleague is being generous enough to give feedback, it’s on you to be an active listener. You can’t effectively use or leverage their advice and feedback if you aren’t listening to it. Be engaged and take time to process everything the person delivering feedback is saying.

One way to truly take in all feedback is through active listening. Honing your active listening skills can benefit you personally and professionally. Active listening is a technique that requires you to make a conscious effort to understand and comprehend what people are saying. You can sharpen your active listening skills through practice or an online course.

Ask the Important Questions

Asking questions goes hand in hand with active listening. It involves seeking clarification and promotes healthy discussions. Asking the right questions can ensure everyone lands on the same page.

As an example, if your coworker suggests removing a couple of paragraphs from the report you assembled, consider asking them why they think those parks should be axed. It’s okay to ask them why they think removing those paragraphs would improve the report. Another example: If your boss thinks you need to take on more of a leadership role on group projects, consider asking more defining questions on why he thinks you should do that and for advice on accomplishing the task.

Asking clarifying questions as you receive criticism or feedback can help show the giver than you’re really considering their comments. It also shows you’re taking their feedback to heart and you’re serious about leveraging their advice to improve and grow.

Summarize the Feedback

One way to show you’ve really processed feedback and you’re serious about implementing it is to summarize and repeat the feedback back to the giver.

“So you think I should remove these two paragraphs from my report because they’re not relevant to the subject and weaken the message we’re trying to drive home,” you might say back.

This can prove you’ve taken the advice to heart and understand the reasoning behind the suggestion. This can further ensure you’re on the same page and have the correct understanding of what you can improve.

Be Gracious and Courteous

One of the most important things to do when you accept negative feedback is to make sure you appear grateful. It might seem illogical to thank someone for pointing out what might feel like a defect. However, it’s an essential thing to do when someone has given you feedback you can use as a tool to improve.

Constructive feedback is there to help you get better and grow. And that is certainly deserving of a “Thank you!” from the heart. If the feedback is significant, you might consider sending a thank you note.

Make a Development PlanMake a Development Plan

One of the most important things about receiving feedback is implementing it into your work. How are you going to follow through on the feedback and what kind of changes are you going to make?

Consider making a development plan to show how you are going to carry out the actions suggested by the feedback. Share your development plan with the person who gave you the feedback.

Take Action

It might sound cliche but it holds truth: Awareness is empty without action. Being aware of where you can improve isn’t enough -- you need to be ready to take action to focus on following through.

Follow through with your development plan and address the feedback. If you need help following through, consider finding a mentor who can guide you through the process of taking action.

Another thing to remember: Just because someone gives you feedback, doesn’t mean you have to accept all of it. Consider the source and relevance of the feedback.  If a colleague tells you to remove part of a report but that part sets up later data and is important to the flow of the report, you don’t have to follow their advice. In many cases, it’s okay to take the feedback you like and leave the rest. On the other hand, if your boss tells you that you need to honor deadlines, you’ll likely want to heed that advice.

Follow Up on the Feedback

You understand the intent of the feedback. You were an active listener when the feedback was delivered. You asked the right questions. You summarized the feedback to show you truly understand what was being said. You said thank you. You developed a plan and you took action to implement the feedback.

The thing to think about when considering how to accept feedback at work is the followup. Circle back around and follow up with the person who delivered the feedback to see how things are going from their point of view. This can help build relationships with millennials and others, as well as sets up a pathway for additional feedback and growth.

You’ll find that feedback from your boss and colleagues is a great way to grow in your career.  Learning how to accept feedback at work with grace might be crucial to your success in your professional life. With the above tips, you should be able to accept both positive and negative feedback graciously and leverage this information toward your professional growth.


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