Receiving feedback

It’s good to invite feedback, but it is what you do with it that counts.

Everyone should get feedback about their job performance to improve and to develop and to become more empowered.


But sadly many people are defensive when someone starts to give them feedback. They sometimes even start to argue back. There are skills for receiving feedback. When you lack the basic skills of how to receive feedback you tend to react to feedback in certain ways.


There are four key skills for receiving feedback:


  • Welcome feedback.
  • Actively seek feedback.
  • Listen to everyone.
  • Be open to change.





The first basic skill is to welcome feedback. That means really valuing it. Realise that it’s important if you’re going to be able to do your job better. Sadly most people who have feedback for someone don’t give it – and in fact they are likely to go and talk about you behind your back – telling someone else about your poor performance or problem issues.


So if someone is prepared to give you feedback, be pleased that they care enough about you to take the time to give you feedback – and welcome it, even if you feel anxious about it. That’s why you need to welcome feedback.


So the first basic skill in receiving feedback is to welcome it, to value it, to recognise that it is essential for your personal and job success.




Not only should we welcome feedback – but we need to actually seek out feedback and make people feel comfortable to give you feedback by asking great questions – not just “how am I doing?”


Many people say they do not get any feedback on their job performance or on their ideas or their suggestions for improvement. What do you do if someone doesn’t give you feedback? You hear this a lot: “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, no-one tells me anything”, or “well we’ve made some suggestions on how to improve quality, but we haven’t heard back yet”.


One view is that these people are really playing victim. They’re saying: “Well, you know, I want to get some feedback but no one gives me any”. Feedback is not asking for a favour, it’s your right to get feedback to do your job properly and getting feedback is part of that. So instead of playing victim, people need to really pro-actively go out and ask for feedback and make sure they get it. “I really need to talk to you. I’m not exactly sure what you expect of me and my job. Maybe you could go over some of the different parts of my job with me and tell me what I am doing well and what needs improvement.”


Or: “Hey, have you had a chance to go through our suggestions? If you haven’t, can we arrange a time when you’ve read the report and we can sit down and go through it together?”


Could it ever be considered pushy to just directly come out and ask for feedback like that?

Not at all! In fact there is some research that says that when you ask for feedback, you are perceived as performing better.


If you actually go and ask for feedback, you are perceived as performing better in the organisation and having a greater performance potential within the organisation. Actively seeking feedback makes a positive impression on others. You are not really considered pushy; you’re actually seen more favourably.




Every team member has to be able to receive feedback from other team members. Most avoid it.

Often people are annoyed by peers giving them feedback. Many assume only the boss is the one to give feedback. And if a colleague gives feedback it is of no value. Wrong!


You have to be prepared to receive feedback from everyone. It might be your boss, it might be your employees, it might be your fellow team members. You know, everybody has got something to say and you should be prepared to listen to them because you might hear something that you weren’t aware of that will actually help you do your job better.





People are creatures of habit and when they hear some feedback that comes from left of field, they are often reluctant to take it on board because it may mean they have to make a change and maybe do things in a different way. Being open to change means being prepared to listen to the feedback, and actually make that change.


Most people simply resist feedback, especially when they are not expecting it or it challenges their work patterns and behaviours.


But if you are willing to change it helps make others around you more co-operative.


Openness to change in one person tends to breed openness to change in the other.




We should all welcome feedback – even actively seek feedback – be open to it and realise that it is of value to you. If you don’t get much feedback actively seek it, ask for it, realise that it is your right to get feedback. You should get feedback from everyone…. your boss, your team colleagues, your associates, your employees, even your customers.


Be prepared to listen to feedback from anyone regardless of their position. It’s important to be open to change – to be prepared to listen to the feedback and to use it to change your behaviour to achieve better results. And that’s what continuous improvement is all about.


Play See the video Receiving Feedback

By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co-producer with Peter Quarry of the Ash.Quarry productions best seller – Receiving Feedback – Basic Skills (from the FEEDBACK SOLUTIONS series)

Click here for more Eve Ash blogs



Dan Cavalli writes: Great article as usual but once again some writers of articles on your site miss the point. Why does a site devoted to small business always give the employees point of view? Why can’t we get some good advice from the small business owner’s point of view so we can handle such situations as mentioned in this article on “receiving feedback”?


In a society where we would rather reward than punish, we are quick to go overboard in helping others when some [small business] need the greatest help most of all. It would be interesting to get your point of view for your reader’s benefit on the following questions that your article didn’t address.


1. How do we give counsel/criticism when we are open to abuse, ridicule from those who don’t want it.

2. How do we protect ourselves in extreme cases from being taken to task from those we respond to with suggestions, criticism and counsel are set to take us for all they can get?


Many times it’s easier not to face probable negative responses from employees and put up with non-acceptable job performance. Sure I hear you saying “get your act together Mr business owner and do something about it”; that’s what I’m alluding to.


I’ve started three businesses over the past few years – all grew to over $10 million without slack employees. One went to $140 million in less than 18 months. Busines owners need small business strategies on how to handle employees, get better results and give criticism without fear while getting rid of useless staff and keep good hardworking happy employees in the bargain.


Now don’t take this feedback on your article personally, if you do, get your act together and just read your article again. I’m sure you’ll pick up some great tips on how to deal with accepting feedback. My suggestion would be to survey your members and ask them what help they would like to have in running their business more successfully.



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