Use Feedback To Your Advantage

How to use feedback to your advantage

When your boss or colleagues give you feedback, does your blood pressure shoot up? Do you start mounting a defense instead of hearing them out? Do you dismiss their comments? If so, you are not alone. We equate feedback with criticism.  It can be painful to receive criticism, and most people avoid it like the plague. That’s because we don’t like to think we’re ever wrong. After all, we spend a lot of energy trying to figure out what actions to take and how to execute them properly. We certainly don’t want comments from spectators – people who weren’t involved and don’t have the experience to judge our performance in the first place.
Sometimes you are wrong!
The truth is that nobody is always right. Everybody has room for improvement. You. Me. That guy in the corner cube.
If you’re interested in growing both personally and professionally, you must learn to welcome feedback, whether it’s negative or positive. Every bit of criticism is a gift, helping you see past your ego and make the changes you need to become more competent, more effective and more valuable.
Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. It was particularly challenging for me to accept feedback without getting defensive or letting my ego get in the way. It is a bad habit that has to be reversed, day by day, conversation by conversation. If you have ever tried to erase this bad habit, you may have noticed that when you have a hard time accepting a piece of feedback, the feedback tends to be true. When my hackles go up, that’s when I know I’m facing an issue I need to work on.
Don’t take it personally.
Your colleagues and managers owe you the truth. They should feel obliged to help you improve. But you can’t expect them to be up-front with you if their feedback is met with an emotional reaction from you. So step back from the criticism, and recognise that the feedback is about your work and your approach, not about you. If you maintain your emotional distance, you’ll be able to extract valuable information that helps you develop and grow.
If you are slightly freaked out about what you are hearing, don’t worry. All you have to do is say thank you. Then you get to walk away and think about what you heard before you consider your next move. Come back after you sort through your thoughts and feelings and when you are ready to have a constructive conversation.
If this feels uncomfortable at first, that’s natural. Bad habits are hard to break! Just remember that this is the first step on the road to becoming happier, more accountable and better at your job.
Reinforce those good habits.
When you get really good at accepting feedback, you might want to start seeking it out. You may start noticing that most people (even your boss, whose job it is to give you feedback) feel uncomfortable giving negative feedback. If this is the case, don’t wait for your yearly performance review to practice your new, non-defensive approach to feedback.
Be proactive by frequently asking your supervisor for constructive criticism. Just ask, “What is one thing I could do differently to improve my results?” Listen to the answer, say thank you, and get to work on it.
Practice depersonalising feedback in this way, and it will truly become a gift to your personal development – I promise!


Are you wanting to connect with others in your workplace by engaging in a team building exercise? Team building is a process of self discovery giving each team member an opportunity to identify their personal strengths and their unique place in the team. To find out more about what Challenge Consulting can do for your workplace click here.