How to Receive Constructive Feedback

Ho to receive constructive feedbackImagine a workday that starts normally. Then you get a sense that some constructive feedback is headed your way.

Do you cringe and try to head the other way?  Or do you fight back?  Or do you have the skills needed to get the most of situations like this?

Staying focused on what is going on in the moment and open to the information coming your way can be difficult. Here are three tips for setting yourself up for making the most of constructive feedback.

Tip #1

Plan for negative feedback before it comes. Consider things you could have done better and imagine someone telling you. Use this as an exercise continuously improve your work performance.

Tip #2

Rehearse a response ahead of time. The response could be something like this…

“This is important for me to understand. Tell me your perspective.”

When you listen and ask for more information it does not mean the person is right or that you agree with them. It just means the person has a perspective he or she is sharing.

Tip #3

Work toward receiving constructive feedback without blaming the person.

It may take time to process the feedback before a person can move past blaming. If that is the case, ask for some time to process the information.

Becoming skilled at feedback, both giving and receiving will lead to a respectful and more open environment.

Gather 510 px squareThe Wallace Centers of Iowa provides tips and tools for leading with civility in the workplace.

Advice for Kids Applied to the Workplace


This week a timely article “7 Do’s of Trick-or-Treat: A Lesson in Civility,” was published from PBS Kids.

The underlying theme of respect is emphasized in the first six tips.

At The Wallace Centers of Iowa, we define civility as small actions that lead to respect for others. We teach workplace leadership that is grounded in civility. When small actions are added together, they build a strong, healthy workplace.

At work, we have no control over what others respect. We are all different and have different values. However, when we choose to incorporate civility practices into our work, everyone benefits.

In the spirit of Halloween fun, let’s see how these tips can translate into civility practices for the workplace.

  • Do only go to houses with lights on.“Not every family participates in Halloween. We should respect that different families do different things.”

Recognize that people have different working styles. Look for clues as to when and how to interact with them.

  • Do stay on paths.“Avoid trampling Mrs. Foster’s flowers. She’s worked so hard on them.”

Recognize that people work hard on their projects; they probably think they are doing what is expected of them. If you need to give them constructive feedback do, it is essential to getting work done together. Do avoid trampling on their work. A good practice is to notice when they do things well. When it is time to share constructive feedback they will be more accepting of your input.

  • Do say trick or treat in a clear, friendly tone.

If you want or need something, speak up in a clear, direct and friendly tone. Don’t assume people will understand what you need in order to get your work done. They are busy getting their work done.

  • Do avoid crowding the person handing out the candy.

Most likely, the person handing out the candy at work is your boss. S/he needs space to get her/his work done. Determine how they would prefer for you to interact with them. If you can’t figure it out, ask. You can say: “When I need to connect with you, what is your preferred way to answer questions or stay informed about my work?”

  • Do take only one candy unless you’re offered more.“There are a lot of kids out tonight. Let’s leave enough candy for everyone.”

This one is tricky because there are times when you do need more than what you are offered.  There is a time and place for negotiation. Do not take things like extra time or property that belongs to the organization, without discussing or negotiating first.

  • Do say“thank you” even if you don’t like the candy offered.

Sometimes work is full of tasks that really aren’t your thing. Saying thank you is really just being grateful for what you have. This civility practice is being researched by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley.  We will explore about the civility practice of gratitude in our next post.