Knowing how to receive feedback is like knowing how to follow a healthy diet.

Feedback is like food – it fuels our growth and nourishes our improvement. It’s how we come to feel fulfilled in our work and hungry for our future possibilities.

If we don’t know how to receive feedback, we won’t be able to:

  • Maximise our strengths
  • Develop our weak spots
  • Uncover and turn on our hidden lights; and
  • Identify our blind spots so they don’t catch us out.

If feedback is so good for us, why do we find it so hard to swallow?

Tips for receiving feedback

When it comes to receiving feedback, my top tip is to ask for it. Regularly.

Behavioural science consultant, Dr Amantha Imber suggests rather than asking for feedback – which is backwards-looking and anchored on your past behaviour – you ask for advice instead. Advice is forward-looking and encourages thought about future actions you can take to improve.

Whether you decide to ask for feedback, advice, or both, be specific about the type of feedback or advice you’re asking for and why. For example, instead of asking your team for feedback on your communication, ask them for feedback on the clarity of your communication. Give them some parameters to help you stay focused. For example, ask them for one thing you do well, and one area in which you can improve.

Also consider who you ask. It can be all too tempting to ask for feedback from friends, the people we feel comfortable with and know will go easy on us. But this can be to our detriment when it comes to growth and improvement.

Instead, seek out those who are credible and best equipped to give feedback on that specific area. Ask those who will provide you with candid, actionable and valuable feedback – or advice – so you can implement it.

No matter who you ask, when they give you the feedback, it’s important to listen carefully…even if it’s difficult to hear.

Remember, just like food, feedback is fuel for your growth.

We may not always want to eat our vegetables, but (sadly) we can’t live on a diet of chocolate and cake. Just like we can’t grow based on positive feedback alone.

So listen up.

See your actions, behaviour and communication through their lens.

Take the time to properly digest and evaluate what’s been said.

Ask questions to help you clarify any areas of uncertainty.

Consider how it compares with your own thoughts or with other feedback you’ve been given.

Then determine if you want to accept the advice and if so, how you can put it into action.

Lastly, choose your mindset. If you go into a conversation closed off to any suggestions for improvement, there’s no point in asking your team or colleagues for input.

The best leaders are perpetual learners and what could be more important than learning about what you do well as a leader and what can be improved?

Any feedback should be considered a gift.

Even if you decide not to accept it, the fact that one of your stakeholders has taken the time to reflect and consider how you can be the best leader possible is something worth thanking them for.