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The art & science of taking feedback: Here’s how to do it like a pro

Taking feedback like a pro

Whether it is during your annual review, a team meeting or just a quick note from your boss via email – receiving negative feedback can be hard to hear.

Before you jump to conclusions, it’s important to remember the difference between negative feedback and a personal attack. Spotting the difference between is key to how you should respond. For example, calling someone out on their habitual tardiness is one thing, but labelling them “lazy” is a whole ‘nother.

The purpose of feedback is to provide observations about someone’s performance, and is delivered with the intent of helping them improve. But if you still get emotional over it, here are some tips to consider:

Digest it – In the heat of the movement, you may be tempted to blast of a fitting response. But take a breath and cool down – having a knee-jerk reaction will do more harm than good. Come back to the conversations a few hours later and think through all the points made. Write it down if you must. The goal here is to be as objective as you can, focus on a few key points and let the rest go.

Talk to a trusted colleague or friend – Grab a trusted colleague or friend to get an honest opinion. Be open and transparent, and encourage them to share honest feedback. You want to know if other people agree with this feedback, and if they do – ask them how you can work towards improving matters.

Start tracking your behaviour – If you still have a hard time coming to terms with the feedback, track your behaviour over several weeks to assess your patterns, successes and missteps. By doing this you will be able to identify where you’re falling short and make necessary adjustments and tweaks.

Ask questions – If you still have doubts or feel like the feedback is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions. While you don’t want to add drama to an already delicate situation, if you feel strongly on a matter and are unsure about how to proceed, it’s best to go back and seek clarification. Besides, if you’re able to do this tactfully, your boss might even appreciate the time and effort you’re putting into turning things around.

Have a plan – Once you’re certain of the changes you need to make, it’s time to start planning and prioritising the order of things. While there’s no way you can make all changes at once, identify the most pressing issues and get cracking on it!

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