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Accept Constructive Feedback Without Getting In Your Feelings Hurt

Originally Published Mar. 11, 2018.

Listening to constructive feedback about your performance is rarely easy to hear, but it’s required to become successful. The Little Black Book of Success is a hands-on guide to help women (whether they work individually or in small groups) expand their networks and seek and use constructive performance appraisals to assist them in building out new skill sets and moving forward.

The book targets women at the beginning of their careers, mid-career professionals, and those considering retirement and/or entrepreneurship. Authors Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood, and Rhonda Joy McLean offer actionable advice on how to leverage constructive feedback to advance your career:

Best advice for handling constructive feedback?

We recommend that you think of constructive feedback as important information that you can use to expand your knowledge of yourself and how you operate in your workplace. Whether you agree or disagree with the appraisal, you should calmly receive the information and review it to “mine out” the diamonds that can help you improve yourself. In our first book, we advised readers to maintain a Personal Leadership Notebook (PLN), so that you can keep track of your goals, accomplishments, and opportunities for improvement, resources, and more.

Your PLN should make it hard for you to be “blindsided” by feedback. You should not be surprised by what you hear. If you are, perhaps you and your manager (or you and your direct report, if you are giving the feedback) have not been meeting regularly, agreeing on goals, and incremental steps toward meeting them. If you are not receiving regular input from your manager, you might want to ask for it by suggesting a regular meeting time and (short) agenda.

Try not to take the feedback you receive personally, even though it is about you and your work. Step back from it and pull out some nuggets to help you focus on steps to move you forward. In the end, understand that constructive feedback is only information that you can choose to use (or not) to your professional (and possibly personal) advantage.

Questions to ask at your next work performance review?

  1. What specific things could I have done to improve my performance?
  2. What steps do I need to take to contribute to the success of this project or help grow and support this company’s mission?
  3. Are there resources within the company that I can take better advantage of to help improve my performance?
  4. How can I support any new initiatives or be involved in any upcoming projects?
  5. I’d like to have an opportunity to check in with you for additional feedback before our next Performance Review to track my progress. Can we set a time to follow up on this information?

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