Embracing Feedback

Next Level Leadership

Embracing Feedback

Last week, I sat in with one of my clients and their leadership team for their meeting. Afterwards, one team leader stayed behind and asked to speak with me. He wanted suggestions and advice on how to handle some feedback he had just received from his supervisor. He shared that he tends to get very emotional and upset when receiving feedback, and I know he’s not the only one.

A lot of topics I coach top executives is around setting expectations, delivering expectations, giving and receiving feedback, and accountability – themselves and to others. They are all related and extremely important to your success as a leader. The one I see as one of the most difficult for people is receiving feedback.

Why do we tend to take feedback personally? Why does it bother us so much to hear things we need to improve on?

You may become angry, defensive, emotional, and passionate when receiving feedback. Let’s take a look at WHY.



You may have some insecurities within yourself regarding the subject matter of the feedback. Or they may be insecurities around your preparation or your experiences.


Perhaps you aren’t feeling confident in yourself and the position you’re holding, but there’s a reason you’re on the leadership team. You do have the skills and abilities to be a successful leader or you wouldn’t be where you are now. Be more confident with yourself, believe in your skill set and the position that you’re in.


Personal experiences could cause you to take feedback personally. Perhaps a former supervisor created a negative experience for you when giving feedback and now you get defensive no matter the subject being discussed.


Perhaps you actually DO need to improve in the areas you’re being given feedback on. They are weak areas or blind spots you haven’t yet taken the time to improve.

If you’re taking feedback personally, ask yourself why? Do you need to build more confidence in yourself? Do you need to let go of past experiences? Once you identify why you’re taking feedback personally, then you can take steps to embrace feedback instead of fighting it.


1) Stop your first reaction.

Be aware of how you’re feeling about the situation and stop your initial reaction. Whether it’s anger, you want to get emotional, you want to throw your hands in the air, you want to argue… just stop your initial reaction.

2) Feedback is a gift.

Make sure you understand that feedback is a gift. It’s only going to benefit your career and your skill set. A leader and executive is a lifelong learner, and feedback is a tool to help you continue that learning. Your supervisor delivering the feedback wants to help you improve and be the best you possibly can be.

3) Listen for understanding.

Hear the feedback being given to you. What is actually being said and why? Make sure you understand where your supervisor feels you can improve and how. When you focus on setting aside your initial reaction, it will free up your mind to really listen and hear what is being said to you.

4) Say “Thank you.”

Whether it’s positive or constructive, thank them for their feedback. They are delivering that feedback to you because they care about your success and want to see you grow. Worry when you stop getting feedback, because that means they recognize you have low emotional intelligence and they’ve moved on to the next person who can handle feedback.

5) Process the information.

Go home, take some time, and let it sink in. Why was the feedback given? How was it said? What can you do to correct it and improve? Focus on a game plan and use that feedback to improve and learn.

The more experiences we go through, the better at taking feedback we get. We become lifelong learners and understand that those around us are wanting to see us succeed and be the best that we can be. So the next time the boss brings you in for a review or to gives you feedback, view it as an opportunity to learn, improve, and grow your skill set.
Embrace the feedback.

We all experience feedback on a daily basis, whether it’s in our career, at home, or in our personal lives, and if we focus on the fact that those around us are just trying to help better us, we can embrace feedback and see it for the gift that it is.