Don’t Get Your Shorts in a Bunch! 3 Tips for Graciously Accepting Constructive Feedback

December 10, 2012

With the end of the year fast approaching, every manager and employee should be asking themselves how they plan to actually improve next year. Of course, that starts with conducting a little self-reflection and accepting constructive feedback that might come your way.

And while it’s great to have a review that discusses what went well in 2012 and which goals you’ll set for yourself next year, I think we can all agree that it’s our day-to-day performance that truly gets results and makes a difference.

So, I urge everyone to take a moment and have an honest conversation with yourself.

Think back to the day-to day feedback you were given this year by your peers or supervisors. Now think about if you actually implemented that into your daily routine. Did you turn something in late at the detriment of a team member? Did you overpromise on a project only to find out that you were not capable of delivering the results? How did your mistakes make you better at your job?

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t great at accepting constructive feedback. As a result, we don’t see that feedback as a learning experience, but rather as an opportunity to get our shorts in a bunch and craft a counterargument for why our shortcomings were not our fault. That bias, quite simply, is one of the biggest reasons many people find it difficult to absorb constructive feedback and use it to improve themselves.

With that said, here are a few suggestions for getting past that bias to improve yourself in small ways:

1) Keep feedback close at hand

When you receive feedback from peers or supervisors on a project, jot it down where you can easily access it. Look at this sheet once in awhile to see if you have improved.

2) Not getting enough feedback? Ask for some

Managers sometimes take for granted that you know the areas you need improving in. Other times, they’re just too busy to offer it. Either way, you are responsible for your own self-improvement, and if you don’t ask for feedback you run the risk of not knowing your biggest weaknesses.

3) Be your own biggest champion and toughest critic

As I mentioned earlier, no one likes to hear they are less than perfect at something. It is easier to blame it on other members of your team, extraneous circumstances, or the mood you caught your manager in when they gave you feedback.

The important thing to remember is that we are all human. We all make mistakes and we all need improvement. So, don’t mistake constructive criticism with unnecessary criticism. The former is helpful, and you shouldn’t dismiss it. In fact, you should frequently analyze your own performance to identify weaknesses, rather than simply waiting for someone else to do it.

Generally speaking, people tend to mosey through their work weeks thinking that they’re doing everything perfectly, and that they could not be doing their jobs any more efficiently. Unfortunately, that’s very rarely true. We all could be more efficient at our jobs and better at them.

If you honestly believe you could not get any better, then you should type up your resignation letter right now.

Ultimately, if you cannot improve, then you are not in a job that’s challenging enough, and good luck to you. In the same vein, when you get something wrong, or someone challenges your ideas, don’t stew over it and kick yourself. Take it in stride, make adjustments as need be, and get the hell over it. Ruminating over feedback or objections only sets you up for more negativity.

I challenge anyone reading this to start accepting constructive feedback, without immediately going on the defensive. And when you get it, utilize and implement it. After all, the best thing we can do is try to get better at our jobs.

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.