How to receive Feedback from your colleagues like a champ

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

-Elon Musk

In Agile software development, early and frequent feedback is essential for the success of a software product. Similarly for an individual, regular feedback from colleagues help in setting role expectations and ensures timely course correction.

So, how do we get honest feedback from our colleagues? Here are some points which might come handy in the process, check out!


Always walk in with a clean slate

As human beings, it is natural to judge a person based on our own biases and past experiences.

It is difficult to accept feedback from a person whom you already dislike; throughout the feedback conversation you end up playing Sherlock holmes, unravelling the malicious plot of agreement traps set up to get your “Aye” on your perceived faults.

Try to be open minded and patiently note down whatever your colleague has to offer and clarify if something sounds ambiguous.

Play the third person

When collecting feedback, try to separate yourself from the role you are getting assessed for. This technique is particularly helpful as it ensures objective outlook towards the feedback rather than an emotional one.

This also helps in preventing the feeling of low morale which might set in after getting a negative feedback. Remember that the improvements are directed towards your role and not you as a person. You are awesome, if you think you are and nobody can change that.

Be inquisitive, try to dig between the lines

I have personally walked out of a room feeling a variety of emotions and then later on wondered what my colleague actually meant by a particular statement.

Be it positive or negative, your best bet is to incessantly try to understand the entire conversation, rephrase it, and get it validated by your colleagues. This would help you analyse patterns in your feedback.

Ironically, despite having developed the most sophisticated forms of communication, we often fail to deliver the intended meaning which leads to misunderstanding and ultimately undesired consequences, hence validating your comprehension works well to iron out any inconsistencies in the shared understanding.

Don’t shoot the messenger

Be respectful to the feedback providers as they have observed you and hence are able to provide insights on your performance, no matter how subjective or overly critical the feedback is, your intent should be to understand it and not to go all guns blazing defending your professional reputation.

Walk out of the room on a good note and analyse the collected feedback. If you observe some patterns then separate the signal from the noise and work on the identified area(s) of improvement as this would improve your self awareness and would help in your professional growth.

Treat the positive & negative as equal.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

-Rudyard Kipling

While getting a negative feedback could be emotionally jarring, positive feedback needs to be handled with extreme care as it constructs delicate skyscrapers of confidence inside you which can be easily shattered by critics if the bar was set really high the last time you walked out of the room.

Set up realistic and achievable professional goals for yourself . Overcommitment and under-delivery would lead to mismatch of expectation and would call for more critical feedback.