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Dec 13 2016

4 Fail-Proof Responses to Constructive Feedback


Does hearing that you’ve done something incorrectly ever get easy? Nope. But it does get easier—especially if you think of constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve.

It also tends to go better when you accept feedback gracefully, rather than getting defensive. Read on for four responses you can use next time your manager or coworker criticizes your work.

1. “I’m glad you’re telling me this.”

Use this statement to show your gratitude. Remember, delivering feedback is almost as tough as hearing it; they’re probably uncomfortable or anxious. As soon as they hear this, however, they’ll feel more at ease.

2. “I’m eager to fix the issue. Can you go more in-depth about…?”

Next, prove that you’re dedicated to improving. Start following up on the comments they shared with you. Not only will digging deeper help you understand how you can do better going forward, it’ll also reinforce your commitment.

3. “Do you have any suggestions for improvement? If you were in my place, what would you do?”

This two-part question works for three reasons. First, it effectively makes the other person your partner. Second, it lets you get valuable insight on how to solve the problem. Third, by asking them to imagine themselves in your place, you automatically encourage them to be more empathetic.

4. “In the future, I will…”

Nothing is more impressive than giving whoever critiqued you a clear game plan. Now that you’ve gathered more information and heard how they’d respond to the problem, you should have multiple ideas for what to do next.

Try to be as specific as possible. Give them dates, details, and tools or resources you’re planning to use or create. The more well-thought your plan seems, the more persuasive it’ll be.

Optional: “I hadn’t realized _______. From my perspective…”

If you think there’s been a miscommunication, use this format to clear it up. The last thing you want to say is, “You’re wrong, and here’s why!” After all, you’ll seem defensive and emotional—so they probably won’t take you seriously.

With this approach, however, you can explain your point of view without criticizing them.
Here’s how it would look all together:

“I’m glad you’re telling me that my communication hasn’t been the best lately. I’m eager to improve—would you mind telling me which emails and reports I sent you that you found hard to understand?”

“Okay, thanks for that feedback. I’d also find it helpful if you could share some examples of vague statements or missing information.”

“I’m jotting those down so I can review them again later. Next, I’d love to hear your suggestions. If you were in my place, how would you tackle this issue?”

“Now that I’ve heard your comments and gotten some tips, here’s what I’ll do going forward. After I write an email or a report, I’ll double-check it for confusing or incomplete sections. Then, I’ll reference it against these examples you gave me. That should eliminate the majority of mistakes.”

With this formula, you’ll never again struggle for words when your manager or coworker delivers some constructive criticism.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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