Managing Self Personal Development

Leadership: How do you respond to constructive feedback?

Written by Jasbindar Singh

Feedback is the breakfast of Champions” Ken Blanchard

Can you recall the last time you received some constructive feedback whether at work or in your personal life…….how did you react to it?

Let us face it – receiving feedback, especially that which is developmental and in the ‘needing some work category’, isn’t always easy.

No matter how well intended it is, we don’t always embrace negative/ constructive feedback as well as we do positive feedback.

With feedback, which is less than glowing, the brain emotional center gets triggered leaving us in a reactive, threatened and unresourced state.

And yet feedback remains a powerful source of both our personal and professional learning.

Over the years I have seen people react in all sorts of ways to feedback – whether solicited or unsolicited.

What is your default pattern?

Can you relate to any of these?  Think of the last time you received feedback, what did you do?

1) Emotional reaction

Initially, there is an emotional reaction. Here are some common reactions:

Anger and annoyance – “How dare they…”

Wounded and injured – Feeling attacked – “That was most unfair…”

Sad and sorry – “I am disappointed …”

2) Resistant thoughts

These are thoughts that minimize or fight against any possibility of the feedback being true.

Denial – ‘This is not true.”

Attacking the feedback provider or the information – “They don’t really know me.”

Ego response – “I don’t care what they think, anyway!”

3) Accepting thoughts

Openess – “Maybe I can learn something here.”

Opportunity – “This is a good opportunity to find out about something I was unconscious of before.”

Gift – “I am grateful for this gift!”

Often it is a mixture of these responses as we react first and then see the the gems later!

What else might you add?

Coaching Tip

Next time you find yourself reacting in a defensive and emotional manner, remind yourself that this is part of the process.

Great leaders are not always born. The make themselves into one through the trials, tribulations and crucibles they have endured. 

Getting feedback is very much part of the leadership journey. And accepting feedback with grace, especially where there is good intent, can be an excellent teacher.

About the author

Jasbindar Singh

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