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Receiving feedback is one of the fastest and easiest ways to ensure personal growth. But it can also be difficult. Some feedback might seem unfounded, feel personal or might even seem unfair. Still it’s important to receive feedback in a calm and interested mannor instead of getting defensive. This especially counts at work, because it might be difficult for your colleagues to push past your defensiveness. That might cause you to miss out on a great insight or lesson which might lead to you continuing to make the same mistakes. Therefore it’s always usefull to work on your ability to receive (difficult) feedback, especially if you have a performance review coming up or might have a feedback moment plannend.

These tips will help you deal with the feedback your receive and make sure you receive anothers honest opinion:

  1. Clearly state that you wish to receive true and honest feedback. Make sure you that others know that they’re doing you a favor by being true and honest instead of nice. Explain to them that you want to get the most out of your meeting or conversation, that you want to learn and grow and that this won’t be possible if they hold back.
  2. Focus on the future. Ask others to give you feedforward: this means that you ask what you can do better in the future, instead of focussing what you did wrong in the past. It’s more useful and productive and it’s also easier for others to discuss.
  3. Be curious and probe. Ask many questions. Don’t just ask once, but give others several opportunities to give you feedback on several levels and subjects. Ask for examples and ways to improve. It can be helpful to ask about specific situations — for example, what could you have done better in a particular meeting? By being curious and asking a lot of questions you increase the chances that people will be comfortable sharing their opinion with you.
  4. Don’t judge. Whether it’s a compliment or point of improvement, try not to judge or get defensive if you don’t understand or recognize it. First thank the other for being honest and taking the time to share their opinion, and if you don’t understand what they mean: try point 3. If you show others that you truly value their opinion and that you won’t react poorly to negative feedback it will increase the chance that they continue to be honest with you.
  5. Write feedback down. By doing this you tackle two things, it shows the other that you take the feedbak serious and intent to act on it (instead of just asking because it’s polite) and you also provide the other with some extra time to think of their feedback and examples (this is especially useful when you ask for feedback on-the-spot). They might come up with a second – very useful – point because they had some time to ponder over your feedback question.

As a final note, it’s important to remember that feedback is not always an accurate reflection of who you are. But it is always an accurate reflection of how you’re perceived. And knowing how you’re perceived is critically important if you want to increase your performance and influence.

Good luck!