The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback

Have you ever been in a conversation and had someone abruptly correct what you were saying? Have you had someone lovely correct what you were saying? Even though both messages may have been important feedback for you, which person were you more likely to hear?

Like it or not, giving and receiving feedback can be an important function in our personal growth. Some feedback is easy to hear. Some feedback is difficult to hear. Some feedback can be difficult to deliver. This article will walk you through the best tips and tricks of both giving and receiving feedback effectively.

Feedback can hurt when it is not given effectively or received with the correct mindset. Paradoxically, feedback is a wonderfully vital part of the growth journey in our lives. With feedback, we can be better people. With feedback, we can more quickly learn and grow into a different way of being. With feedback, we can guide our decisions and choices to better align with our soul’s path. Feedback can be AWESOME !!

                               Article 2 in Series: POSITIVE DISCUSSIONS OF DIFFICULT TOPICS
                               In this series, we will highlight how to have a positive discussion
                               when the topic is difficult. Part 2 focuses on the art of giving
                               and receiving feedback.

“Receiving feedback sits at the intersection of these two needs
—our drive to learn and our longing for acceptance.”

Douglas Stone, “Thanks for the Feedback: The science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well”

Mindset for Feedback


To create this fertile mindset to both accept and receive feedback is an simple shift.

Firstly, it is important to know yourself, your triggers (relationship, identity, hot buttons). When someone says something that instantaneously inflames you, watch your reactions. When you notice yourself reacting, take a deep breath and relax. Emotional reactions happen because the feedback challenges the receiver’s current truth. What is being said doesn’t “jive” with what they think about themselves, choices and/or their environments. Remember, feedback is just an opinion. Nobody need to take someone else’s opinion as their own truth. It is a choice.

As the receiver of the feedback, make sure you don’t take on their opinion of you. Instead take it in, swill in what they may see from their perspective, and decide whether it is something you are ready to bring into your life. If the answer is “no” then say “thank you for your perspective” and set it aside. There may be a future time when the feedback is more appropriate to apply. It’s OK to choose to wait. Although you are rarely in control of what others choose to say, you are ALWAYS in control of what you do and do not let in.

Giving and receiving feedback effectively involves a great deal of trust. The giver needs to trust they are speaking from their highest truth. Speak from a place that helps rather than harms. Speak from a place of love. Speak to the receiver’s highest truth, and what you believe they can receive in that moment.

Giving Feedback – Tips

  1. Give as a Gift to help another person.
  2. Give only if it will benefit the other person.
  3. Be specific rather than general.
  4. Focus on behavior, rather than personal traits.
  5. Focus on a behavior the person can change.
  6. Give only when the feedback is solicited.
  7. Think of it in terms of sharing information rather than giving advice.
  8. Make sure you are not coming from a superior posture (I am right, you are wrong).
    Instead come from a place of neutral posture (I may see something from which you may benefit).
  9. Be as well timed as possible. Are they open to hearing what you will be saying? Is there a better time?
  10. Give the amount the person can manage, rather than the amount we want to give.
  11. Check yourself to ensure you are clearly communicating.
  12. And above all, do not give feedback under the guise of “getting something off our chest”. Feedback is for THEM, not to help us feel better about a situation.

Receiving Feedback – Tips

  1. Look closely at the source of the feedback:
    — Is the person giving the feedback because they want to help you?
    — Do you trust and respect the person who is giving you the feedback?
    — Know that not everyone knows how to give feedback effectively.
    — Acknowledge that you would rather know, than not know.
  2. Know this is someone else’s opinion, not necessarily your truth.
  3. Decide if you want to accept the feedback as something you can work on.
    1. You can accept the feedback
    2. Reject the feedback
    3. Not Accept or Reject it YET
      –put it on the shelf and when you have a different perspective the feedback may be more relatable for you.
  4. You can choose to accept only part of the feedback, rather than all aspects of the feedback.
  5. Listen past “how” they are saying it, and instead focus on “what” they are saying.
  6. Listen without coming to any quick judgement. Let the feedback breathe, without coming to a quick response.
  7. Thank the person giving you the feedback – always. We often time deflect our feedback (positive and negative) instead of having gratitude for the opportunity to learn.
  8. Don’t rush to react. Do not debate the feedback. Do not defend your choices or reasons for acting the way you do. Just say thanks.

In Conclusion

Often times we are not able to fully understand and see how our actions, words and choices may negatively affect our lives. Our loved ones can provide us a mirror to better see ourselves, if we are open to it. Being closed to feedback means we have to learn from our own experiences, rather than being able to learn from the lessons of our loved ones.

Learning the art to give and receive effective feedback can jettison us into rapid, effective and long-lasting change. Learn ON !

Other Articles You Might Like:

Series: Creating Positive Discussions of Difficult Topics
Who Has It Worse? You? Me? Them?

External Reading
Book: Thanks for the Feedback: The Science of Giving and Receiving Feedback, by Douglas Stone
Blog: Potential of Leadership Feedback

Most of this information came from leadership and counseling courses as an Instructor with Colorado Outward Bound School.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.