Handling Feedback Well

Feedback is something everyone receives – even our country's leaders as you may have observed during this year's General Elections. However, good or bad, it is how we handle feedback that really matters.

If handled well, feedback can help us improve and grow. If not, it could be bad personal publicity for ourselves and may even affect our chances of promotion and our relationship with colleagues.

So, how should we deal with feedback the right way?


As tempting as it may be to defend yourself or find excuses for certain behaviours, hold your tongue. First listen and repeat after them to clarify the issues brought up. Then ask questions to find out how they got to feel that way and ascertain ways to rectify it. Finally, thank them for taking the effort to share this with you. Keep this in mind: People who bother giving feedback are your true friends. They are willing to risk anger from you for you, and you can be assured they are no backstabbers!

Pause… to Identify and Evaluate

However, not all feedback are worthy of our attention. And even if you beg to differ, rather than jumping to your own defense right away, hold your thought for a moment and give some thought to what has been relayed to you.

Some are irrational and meant to be ignored. Others are constructive and genuinely given for our betterment. Identify the kind of feedback your friend, colleague or client is giving and decide if you should even respond.

Confirm or refute

Before deciding what you should do (or not do anything), consider sharing the feedback with someone you respect for their objective views, for example your mentor at work. Find out if he or she has observed such problems or behaviours, then discuss appropriate measures to take.


After identifying the feedback, there's generally three ways of responding. That is, ignore, learn or stand by your ground.

Malicious feedback and subjective rants by ill-mannered people definitely fall into the category of "Ignore". Genuine feedback that highlights blind spots to you and help you improve and grow falls into the category of "Learn". This is where feedback is most valuable and you should quiz the person dishing it out for as much information as you can. Lastly, in the "stand by your ground" category are some feedback may be constructive and worth consideration, but which you would stand by despite objection from the rest.

The next time you get feedback from anyone, recognise the type and make the most out of it. And thank the person for bothering to share too!

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