How do you react when you get feedback?

If you’re anything like me, you may both love and hate it at the same time. And while most of us want to receive helpful, honest feedback, at the same time, we’re often scared about what people might say – especially if it could hurt our feelings, ruffle our feathers, or leave us feeling insecure, vulnerable, or embarrassed.

For the most part, and in many situations, groups, and relationships in our lives, there is an unspoken, unconscious agreement that we make with others – “I won’t call you on yours if you don’t call me on mine.” While this makes sense and is understandable, the lack of authenticity doesn’t serve us, bring us closer to others, or allow us to support and empower each other in any real way (which is what most of us truly want).

Reflect on some of the important feedback you’ve received throughout your life and career and acknowledge its significant contribution to your growth and progress. While some of this feedback may have initially been uncomfortable to receive, it’s likely that you deeply appreciated not only the feedback itself but you’re also grateful for the people in your life who have and continue to tell you the truth like this.

It takes courage to both give and receive feedback. In fact, it’s one of the most profound gifts we can offer others. Embracing the honest feedback and guidance from others is a critical aspect of living a life of success, continual growth, and authenticity.

Tips on How to Get Honest Feedback

Receiving feedback is crucial for our development and performance. It offers valuable insights, identifies areas for improvement, and fosters a culture of continuous learning in any environment. Embracing feedback enhances self-awareness, strengthens relationships, and contributes to ongoing growth.

Here are some essential things to think about and practice as you increase your ability to receive feedback:

1) Ask for it 

Since honest feedback can be a tricky thing, and many of us are a little insecure about giving feedback, letting people know that you want them to be real with you and proactively requesting their authentic feedback, is a great way to make sure you get it. Give people permission to be straight with you – even if you feel nervous about what they might say. We usually get what we ask for.

2) Be open to feedback, but remember it’s not the “truth” 

It’s important for us to be open to people’s feedback, whether or not we asked for it, and at the same time remember that nothing anyone says to us is the “truth,” (it’s just their opinion). This is one of the many paradoxes of getting feedback from others. Just because they say it doesn’t make it so.

At the same time, the best approach we can take is to be as open as possible. Try on their feedback like you would a coat – if it fits and can help, use it. If not, let it go in a thoughtful and respectful way. However, be careful about your ego – which will want to argue with the feedback you don’t like as a way of survival (yet another paradox).

3) Give honest feedback to others

Be willing to speak up and share your feedback with others, with permission and in a productive way. This is not about “tit for tat” or some kind of competition, but if we really want to create relationships, teams, families, and environments where we can talk to each other in an open, vulnerable, and authentic way – we have to be willing to speak up and be real. Doing this not only gives us the opportunity to make a difference for others, but it also creates a standard by which we relate to one another and communicate.

Providing honest feedback is vital for fostering growth, building trust, and promoting effective communication. It enables people and teams to improve, encourages accountability, and strengthens relationships.

Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others as you engage in these types of honest conversations – they can be sensitive and challenging (especially at first). And, as we all know and have experienced, when we’re willing to get real and give each other honest feedback like this, it can be incredibly beneficial to each of us and all of us.

What can you do to get more honest and effective feedback?  Share your thoughts, ideas, challenges, and questions about this in the comments below.


  • Mike Robbins

    Author and Motivational Speaker

    Mike Robbins is the author of five books including his latest, We’re All in This TogetherHe’s an expert in teamwork, leadership, and company culture who delivers keynotes and seminars around the world that empower people, leaders, and teams to engage in their work, collaborate, and perform at their best. Mike and his team partner with clients like Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.