Reacting to Corrective Feedback

Mohamed El-Geish
Published in
2 min readSep 20, 2020

An AI-Rewrite of My LinkedIn Article With the Same Title & Introduction

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Disclaimer: This article was written mostly by GPT-3 given the introduction of my original article as a prompt; a few edits were made for style and clarity.

My brain used to freeze when someone points out a mistake I made; a sense of embarrassment and shame typically followed. Consciously observing and reflecting on one’s emotional state in such situations helps reprogram reactions to achieve better outcomes. When receiving corrective feedback, what is your knee-jerk reaction? I think the default should be inspecting the facts and the feedback’s merit in a manner devoid of emotions — like a judge in court; my coach at LinkedIn, Nick Strauss, gave me a great analogy for this: Catch the feedback in your baseball mitt and inspect it from afar; don’t let it hit you in the chest.

To do this, think of the feedback as something you are taking notes on and assessing, but don’t internalize it. Then once you’ve mentally processed the feedback, thank the person for giving you the feedback and let them know that you’ll reflect on what they said. Hopefully this will build a sense of trust and open the door for more feedback in the future. Here’s an important caveat: Once you have the feedback in hand, don’t immediately jump to the defensive. This is important because it’s natural to feel defensive when we think we’re being attacked. That’s because of a phenomenon called negativity bias, which causes people to pay more attention to negative information over positive information.

So, when someone points out a mistake you made, acknowledge it is a mistake and take note of any good lessons you can learn from it. With an external project or team, it’s important to talk through the issues and the emotions surrounding that experience to build trust. This is particularly important when the feedback is negative. I used to do just as I said above; take notes on the feedback and react emotionally. Now, I try to keep a steady, non-judgmental approach — this way if I need to readdress a situation with the other person, I can be genuine and the conversation will be more constructive. I’ve also found that working on your own self-diagnosis of emotions is important. Doing this helps you learn how to better manage your emotions rather than have your emotions control you. For instance, when I feel defensive or threatened, I take a moment to ask myself why I feel that way. I also recommend taking time to reflect on your emotions and experiences during and after a meeting or conversation.

Do you have any advice on how to give or receive feedback in a manner that promotes openness and learning?