Feedback is a gift

A surprising number of people think they are good at accepting feedback but aren’t. And most people think they want the feedback but don’t.

A significant part of my job involves collecting information from large groups of people and sharing that information in the form of feedback with the relevant people. 

If you are offered feedback, someone or many someones cares enough about you and your future to try to change your trajectory.

If you are offered feedback, the person giving it to you has access to information to which you may not have access. People may be more honest with an intermediary than they are with you directly, especially if you have a reputation for not taking feedback well.

If you are offered feedback and politely explain to the giver why they’re wrong, three things will happen. First, you will miss the change to internalize and learn from valuable feedback. Second, the giver will — I promise — think less of you. Third, you’ll develop the reputation as someone to whom people should not waste time and political capital giving feedback.

If you are offered feedback, there’s really only one thing you need to say: “Thank you so much for caring enough about me to risk giving me feedback that may not be well received. I respect your opinion, I’ll think about it, and I welcome any more suggestions you have.” If appropriate, you can also talk about actions that need to be taken.

It’s not easy to accept and consider feedback seriously, but if you do it well, it could change the trajectory of your career for the better.