Principles of Receiving Feedback
Source: Coalition of Essential Schools
There may be a time when the person giving you feedback does not know or does not follow feedback guidelines. In these cases, you can help the person reshape their comments or criticism into constructive feedback. In all cases, when receiving feedback:
1. Breathe. This may seem overly simple but remembering to do it can make a difference. Our bodies are conditioned to react to stressful situations as if they were physical assaults (e.g., muscles tense, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. etc.) Taking full breaths will help your body to relax and your brain to focus.
2. Specify the behavior about which you want feedback. The more specific you can be about the feedback you want, the more likely you are to be able to act upon it. For example, if you want to know how students reacted to an assignment, ask, "What did the students in the small group you observed do after I finished answering their questions?" rather than "How did it go?"
3. Listen carefully. Don't interrupt or discourage the person giving feedback. Don't defend yourself ("It wasn't my fault...") and don't justify ("I only did that because...").
4. Clarify your understanding of the feedback. You need to get clear feedback in order for it to be helpful. Ask for specific examples, e.g. "Can you describe what I do or say that makes me appear aggressive to you?"
5. Summarize your understanding of the feedback. Paraphrase the message in your own words to be sure you have heard and understood what was said.
6. Take time to sort out what you heard. You may need time to think about what was said and how you feel about it or to check with others before responding to the feedback. This is a normal response but should not be used as an excuse to avoid the issue.
7. Check out possible responses with the person who gave you feedback. A good way to pre-test an alternative approach to a situation that has caused problems for you in the past is to ask the person who gave you feedback if he/she thinks it will be more effective. That provides a first screen, and makes the feedback-giver feel heard.
Adapted from "The Art of Feedback," by S.C. Bushardt and A.R. Fowler. Jr., in The 1989 Annual: Developing Human Resources, edited by J.W. Pfeiffer, 1989, San Diego, CA: University Associates and The Team Handbook by Peter Scholtes et al, 1988, Joiner Associates, Madison, WI. revised 6/96
Receiving Feedback: Summary
Additional Guidelines for Receiving Feedback
These are techniques to help you deal with your own defensiveness so that you can make use of criticism when it is offered to you.
How to Receive Criticism
How to Evaluate the criticism
Questions to ask yourself:
How to Respond
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