Responding to Feedback at Work


I submitted a work report to someone with authority to review. Although I submitted the report by e-mail  to get feedback on the content, I received a responding e-mail with the bolded words “there are several typos throughout”. However, the overall quality of the report was deemed to be accurate.

There are multiple ways that we can choose to respond any situation. For the best possible outcome in this work situation, I was appreciative for the feedback and used the feedback to correct my report.

It is beneficial to let others know that you are appreciative for any feedback they give you. Other people can provide us with a unique perspective that can help our performance (such as catching typos in your drafts).

When we receive feedback, it is important to keep our ego in check.I have to admit that I had a moment where my ego got involved. The e-mail statement “there are several typos throughout” was copied to five of my colleagues! I read through the entire document twice and found (only) two mistakes!

Luckily, I was able to keep my ego in check. I realized that I need to work on editing my own work since I have difficulty seeing the details. I asked another co-worker to look at the document and they found about 6 small errors. If I listened to my ego, I would not have been open to additional feedback.

When we receive feedback that we interpret as “negative”,  the ego / story telling mind can get a little carried away. These examples are exaggerated to make a point. This is what we do NOT want to do.

The ego can create stories imagining the intention of others

-“This person is trying to make me look bad.”

-“My colleagues can’t wait to judge me on this”.

The ego can create stories to defend itself.

-“I was tired when I wrote this report, it is understandable that I made a few mistakes.

-“I am more of a big picture type of person, these small details don’t matter”

If the ego feels very threatened, it may go on the attack. In this case, the ego will create a story line that justifies depreciating the source of the “threat”.

-“What does that person know, they are only a _________”

Yes, this is a silly example. This situation is minor. This is just a small “blip on the screen”. However, if we do not keep our “ego in check” and get a grasp on our responses to minor situations, we can create the proverbial “mountain out of a molehill”. For example, if I replied to the initial e-mail with some sort of “snarky” comment, I could have damaged rapport with many people.

When receiving feedback at work, it is important to:

1)  Acknowledge the positive! Sometimes we can overlook positive feedback if we receive just a little bit of “negative” feedback.

2) Consider if the feedback is valuable. Will this feedback help you achieve your goal?

3) Show appreciation for feedback. In most cases, someone has taken their own time to consider a product, report or project. Please thank them for their time.

4) Keep your ego in check!

Have a great work day!

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12 Comments to “Responding to Feedback at Work”

  1. All good points. Yes, old habits die hard when receiving criticism. When you can,not taking feedback personally is just the ticket. That means the positive and the negative feedback. It’s all just feedback. Take what you want and leave the rest. Thank you

    Sue Bock
    http://couragetoadventure.com
    http://bestlifeafterbreastcancer.com

  2. it is called humility. it is a great and wonderful thing to learn and develop in ones self!

    • Humility is about being modest and respectful. In office environments, that egolessness should go both ways. There is a difference between humility and submission. Saying the word “throughout” made the communication derogatory in nature. Without that one word, offense can only be taken if looked for. Just saying there are several typos gets the message across in a fact format, and has no subtext issuing judgement. My response is to be humble with those that deserve it, to know your place and change it if it doesn’t serve you, and to look for the truth in everything.

  3. I got defensive when a friend told me a few “tips” to enhance my blog. My ego blinded me until I stopped and listened to the critique. One, thid person is a great web designer, so they are sa source worth listening to. Two, the things they pointed out were things I’ve attempted to do but more advanced. Finally, they pointed out one important detail that I didn’t think of that I was looking to change for other reasons, and that helped me choose the most suitable option over other options I likely wouldn’t have otherwise looked passed. Feedback can always be constructive even if it seems negative. That being said I don’t understand why they CC’d the response to anybody but you, unless they are all doing typos too or there is some process I’m unaware of. If there are only two typos and they purposefully exaggerated it, that is suggestive of a personal attack. It happens in office environments, and that’s why I decided entrepreneurship is better for me. In fact, a lot of people are starting their own businesses the statistics keep climbing.

    • Thank you very much Csaba. I have to admit that I need to edit this post. I honestly have great difficulty proof reading my own work. I had another colleague read it only for typos and they found about sit. However, I do believe that old adage “praise in public, critique in private”.

  4. As long as the feedback falls into the category of “constructive criticism” and has the “tone” is positive it’s pretty easy to keep the ego in check. The opposite direction is pretty counterproductive and discouraging. (in my opinion).

    • I agree that it is easier to accept criticism when there is a softer “I want to help you tone”. For the example in the blog, it may have been more appropriate to say “I think the overall content is good, however I did not some typos”. I still need to accept responsibility for my written product as well as my emotional response.

  5. Great post! Story for you: I remember last year when i attended this singing competition, when the tutor (prof.) told the student that her singing needed improving during rehearse she turned around and went “NO” then gave him evils! It seemed kinda bratty at the time. Later she was going around telling everyone her singing was fine and he had no right to say this. I thought to myself she was so full of ego that she could not accept someones opinion regardless, when we get positive feedback or positive criticism were supposed to thank the person or at least accept their opinion rather than get defensive about it. Sometimes when one does something wrong and someone tells them the truth they take it way too personally, in that scenario she should of said “i will try even better next time”. Then again it does happen to us all at some point, conquering the ego and isolating it is a very big challenge for us.

  6. A good reminder. I am constantly getting “feed back” I don’t ask for. And keeping my ego in check always takes work.

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