Don’t Get Overwhelmed When You Get Feedback at Work: 7 Ways to Keep Your Cool & Succeed Faster
Updated: Nov 3
“I’ve worked so hard and apparently I’m doing it all wrong” You may be surprised. You may be caught off guard. You may have been happily doing things the best way you knew and now you find out that someone important to you thinks differently. You may feel unappreciated and confused about what to do next.
Here are some mindsets that can help you move from overwhelmed to outperforming:
#1 Prepare your brain for feedback Whenever you are about to receive feedback, even if you only have a few seconds to see what might be coming, take 3 deep breaths. Quickly remember a time when another’s feedback to you was helpful and it all turned out well. Know that remaining calm will get you to a better place and that overreacting is never helpful.
#2 Remind yourself to seek understanding & clarity first The first few comments made by your feedback giver are almost never enough. You will need to hear more details and examples before you fully understand what the other is saying. Almost always, a new level of clarity prevents you from overgeneralizing. You will start to see that some adjustments in one or two areas will improve your outcomes.
#3 Ask another question To clarify what you need to change and how to do it, you will need to probe further until you can confirm what changes are likely to work.
#4 Keep breathing & avoid explaining yourself The desire to explain and defend yourself is a universal human instinct—akin to the instinct to defend yourself from physical attack. But trust me, it doesn’t work in convincing the other person that you are willing to make changes.
#5 Ask for their ideas for how to address the problem Although you will need to “own” your own solutions, it’s good to know what the other person has in mind. Once you understand what they are thinking, you can initiate a rational conversation about the best solutions and commit to a plan of action.
#6 Find something valuable in what they are saying If you look hard enough, you will find some gold in their feedback, whether it’s in the problem they brought up or their suggestions for remedying it. Tell them the parts you appreciate and find helpful.
#7 Allow yourself to soak it all in and develop new insights The more time that passes after the feedback—all of the minutes, hours, days and weeks pass, your brain will allow intuitions to pop up about what they were really saying and give you new ideas about how to improve your performance.
Following these new ways of thinking about feedback will steer you to a win-win experience that you can be happy about.
Read The Feedback Imperative for more information on how to give great feedback!