How To Receive Constructive Feedback Effectively Often, people confuse constructive feedback with criticism and that's when the negative emotions start to take the front seat and overleap the positive notations

By Amit Kumar

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"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve," Bill Gates once said.

People feel sadder when they lose $20 than they gain $20. This is because human brains are designed like that; we see bad indications faster than the good ones. If you would give someone 100 roses, but if one of them has thrones and hurts the person, the chances of the person remembering that bad experience are more than the happiness of receiving roses.

Well, that's the thing with receiving constructive feedback. Constructive feedback is supportive feedback given to an individual so that he/she can improve. But often, people confuse constructive feedback with criticism and that's when the negative emotions start to take the front seat and overleap the positive notations.

Why is constructive feedback important?

Just imagine, you are driving from point A to point B. The route is totally new for you and you don't know how to reach your destination. So, you open the Google Map in your car to help you with the directions. The voice instructions state you to take right, left, U-turn, etc., as per the requirement of the route, and in the end, you reach your destination.

Well, that's what constructive feedback does. In your professional life, you would have some goals and aspirations, and to reach them guidance is important, and that comes when your seniors, managers, or bosses give you constructive feedback. It eventually helps you with your goals in the long run. It helps you identify your weaknesses, strengths, and how to overcome weaknesses, and how to utilize your strengths further.

How to receive constructive feedback like a pro?

Have a positive mindset: What would be your reaction if someone tells you that you lack in this particular thing or you didn't perform as per the expectations or you could have done this even better. Well, the initial reaction would be of defense. You may find excuses to nullify the other individual's opinion. Right? Though that's not how we are supposed to take constructive feedback.

"If you reject feedback, you also reject the choice of acting in a way that may bring you abundant success," once said John Mattone.

The purpose of receiving a constructive feedback is to improve. And the best way to develop accepting and positive emotions is to understand how the feedback would help you. Once you develop a positive mindset, it becomes easier for you to understand why someone is giving you the particular feedback.

Align the feedback with your goal: The ultimate purpose of constructive feedback is to get closer to your goal. Thus whenever you receive constructive feedback, take some moments, and reflect on your performance.

"Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored," according to Tim Fargo.

Make a strategy of how you can reach your goals, and what you lack. It is not necessary that constructive feedback will always be external. You can also give it to yourself. Nevertheless, align the constructive feedback you have received with your goals and work on the mistakes.

Ask questions after receiving feedback: As a kid, when you had doubts in a class, what did you do? Raising hand and asking the teacher, right? Well, just because we are no longer sophomores, doesn't mean we should settle for not knowing.

"The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering," said David Whyte.

To take benefit from constructive feedback, ask these questions to yourself and to the person giving you feedback. It will help you learn better and solve doubts if any: How can I improve my performance? How can I handle my work more diligently? How can this constructive feedback help me overcome my weaknesses? Did I take the feedback well? Did I understand the feedback given? Any specific suggestions I can use to help me improve my work tactics?

Note that not every question would apply, make your own list of questions, and find the answers of wisdom.

Ask for assistance

Asking for help shows that you are eager to reflect and improve on your skills. If you find anything confusing in your feedback or don't know in which direction to go forward, simply ask for assistance from your seniors, managers, or the concerned person.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new," said Barack Obama.

By taking assistance, your work becomes easier, you save yourself time and effort, and you learn new things. So be courageous and open-minded.

Learn, improve, and don't take feedback personally

The constructive feedback given to you is to reflect the changes in your performance the next time. It is so that you can learn from your mistakes and improve. Though often we have mistaken it for failure or we take it personally.

We should remember that the feedback is given to the way we have worked or to our work, and not to us as an individual. Taking things personally when it is not meant can only create negative emotions, and that would eventually hamper your professional life. According to Ken Blanchard, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions."


Sometimes the truth can be harsh, but it is essential for our growth and so is the constructive feedback for the development of our career and goals. In the words of Doc Rivers, remember, "Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth." So reflect, learn, and never settle!

Amit Kumar

CEO OLX Autos India

Amit Kumar is a business leader who has built multiple internet consumer businesses in the last decade. He was earlier Managing Director of Kaymu (Merged with Jumia, Listed on NYSE). He likes to write about Leadership, Startups and Economics. 


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