Feedback is something many of us fear. In fact, just the word feedback can be associated with negative feelings for the person receiving it and the person giving it. 

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry - it’s not something you can necessarily control. This fear is hardwired into our biology. From the prehistoric days of running away from danger, our brains are attuned to protect us from things we find threatening. In the modern day, our brains are still hardwired to fight back in response to a threat, even if it is just to words.

Luckily, we can learn to rewire our brain when we receive feedback. Here are 3 tips to help you overcome your fear of feedback.

1. Change your perspective 

Rarely do people give feedback to bring you down. Often, it is to help you improve. Changing your mindset on the purpose of the feedback (i.e, approaching it with a growth mindset of “feedback helps me improve”) can be very powerful in how you view feedback. In fact, soon you may be asking for more feedback instead of running away from it.  

2. Breath, prepare, and listen

Receiving feedback often comes with a warning. Maybe it’s an email. Maybe you messed up a task. Remember that it’s ok. We make mistakes - the important thing is to that we learn from our mistakes. Take the time to prepare for a meeting where you know you will be receiving feedback. Performing a self-assessment can help you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses and better prepare you for the feedback conversation.

When you receive the feedback, do not get defensive. Take the time to listen and fully digest what is being said to you. If something is unclear, ask questions. At the end of the day, you want to be clear on how exactly you can improve your skills. Asking questions is vital. 

3. Follow-up 

Giving one piece of feedback once a year is ineffective. The feedback giver needs to follow-up. Many modern workplaces recognize this. Many work environments have transitioned to encouraging a feedback culture in their organization whereby continuous feedback is being given weekly or bi-weekly (often times, these workplaces have a continuous feedback software that makes it easy to share feedback and followup on feedback). Another bonus is that in workplaces that instill this culture of continuous feedback, they often have higher levels of employee engagement, and hence productivity. We should also strive to do this in our every day life. 

In the case that feedback giver doesn’t follow-up, the feedback receiver should follow-up Feedback receiver should be asking questions like: Have I improved? What else can I do to help me improve? Do you have any more comments or feedback for me? Asking these questions is how good behaviors are established and habits are created. 

Did I miss something? What other useful strategies do you employee to help receive constructive feedback?