5 Steps to Receive, Handle & Respond

How Do You Take Feedback?

Performance review, feedback, evaluation, constructive criticism…cue the scary music! These similar words all can trigger some tension or anxiety within us. We hear the word feedback and our first instinct tells us that negative comments are soon to follow. We put up our defense system in preparation for what our critic has to say. Our natural instincts are only trying to protect us from hurt feelings.

What’s the real story? In most situations, the evaluator’s real intention is not to hurt us, but to help us. They see a mistake that we’re making, and they want to guide us in the right direction. They might be giving us feedback at a time when we’re not expecting it, and they don’t know how we’ll react. Giving feedback can be more frightening than receiving it, and that’s something we should keep in mind as feedback comes our way.

A Pricewaterhouse Coopers Survey of Millennials has some interesting stats: 51% of those questioned said feedback should be given very frequently or continually on the job. The companies that are most successful at managing Millennials are those that understand the importance of setting clear targets and providing regular and structured feedback.

Whether or not we are expecting to receive feedback, there are several techniques we should keep in mind when comes to how we handle constructive criticism.

one-on-one meeting illustration

Remember what mom said: if you don’t have anything good to say – don’t say anything at all. Whatever your initial reaction is, don’t let it out. Don’t react. Take a deep breath and think again, whatever feedback that you are receiving, good or bad, is for your benefit, not your demise. Although getting defensive is natural, especially when you are receiving feedback that seems cynical, it’s immature, and you are a professional.

If something they said was too vague or didn’t make sense to you, this is a perfect time to ask! Start by repeating what you did understand and follow with your question. Try not to be accusatory and always take responsibility for your actions. Ask for specific examples and solutions they might have in mind. If you don’t have questions right away or you are feeling too flustered to think clearly, take your time to think about the feedback. Let your reviewer know that you appreciate their concerns, but you need some time to collect your thoughts.

It was tough for the evaluator to give you their honest opinion. Recognize them for their effort, make eye contact and say thank you. Your respect doesn’t mean you agree with everything they just said, but you are a respectful and professional person! If you are looking for more feedback in the future, it’s important that you make your critics feel comfortable giving you constructive criticism. This is also a good time to tell your critic that you would like to follow up with them after you have had a chance to think about their opinion.

Write the feedback you received somewhere private that you can come back to. Take time to clear your head and know that this feedback is not a judgment of you as a human, but rather someone’s opinion of how you could perform better on the job. This doesn’t mean their view is perfect or that you have to agree with it. Think about what they said objectively and try to come up with questions to clarify their comments. Was their feedback related to an isolated event or a recurring issue? Is it within your control to solve the problem or prevent it from happening again? It is entirely possible that their feedback is not helpful to you and they were having a moment of frustration themselves.

After you have taken the time to clear your head and think about what was said, schedule a short meeting to discuss the feedback once more. Be sure to let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to both provide you with feedback and taking some additional time to discuss it. Review the points that you understood and articulate how you will work on them. Ask specific questions to find out what triggered the feedback and learn what events affected them. Ask those clarification questions you had been thinking about. Finally, see what solutions they had in mind and see how they align with yours.

Handling feedback with these techniques will be helpful for scheduled performance reviews and on-the-spot criticism. The most important thing to remember is to keep your cool. Receiving feedback face-to-face is not the only way to understand how your colleagues feel.

Take full control of the details associated with your meetings. You will be able to set the goal, agenda, time, date, and even set the meeting location. In addition, you have full control of who you can invite. As an added feature, you are able to view an estimated cost of your meetings.

The agenda allows you to create a list of requirements, provides you with the ability to assign tasks, and allows you to upload pertinent files associated with the meeting. In addition, you can set the agenda and create a list of requirements and tasks that may be necessary for your meetings to be successful.

While in the meeting, have one or more note takers so that the everyone in the meeting is well informed. Keep the conversation going after the meeting through the meeting discussion board.

No meeting is officially over until it has been evaluated. The built-in feedback survey allows everyone a simple way to provide feedback for the team to see.

Try Align Us today!

Align Us, Inc. is a software development company based in Chicago, IL. It was founded by Abe Reese, a die-hard coder with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for organizational health. As the founder of a firm that won the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies Award for four years in a row, Abe knows how to turn ideas into reality while maintaining a fun, focused, work environment. Try the Align Us Platform Free.


Lindsay, Nicole. “Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ.” Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ. The Muse, 2 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

Wilding, Melody. “5 Ways Not to Handle Negative Feedback.” 5 Ways Not to Handle Negative Feedback. The Muse, 27 May 2014. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-ways-not-to-handlenegative- feedback>.

Millennials at work Reshaping the workplace. <https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/services/consulting/ documents/millennials-at-work.pdf>