Handling tough feedback with grace.

Feedback is an important part of helping individuals and organizations be more successful. It plays a role in how we learn, how we develop ourselves, improve our impact, improve our relationships:  all of which should lead us to be happier and hopefully better paid!

So, feedback is a really important tool. From an ethree perspective, it is the second most underutilized tool in the workplace; after great listening. But hearing feedback from somebody else is not always easy. Sometimes the feedback we hear can really challenge our notion of ourselves, our perceptions, and challenge us to think about how we hear that feedback and do something with it. With that in mind, here are our top 4 tips for what to do if you’re presented with feedback that you find challenging.

  1. Remember good intentions

In a “Just Ask Jess” video, I talked about the difference between intent and impact. If somebody is taking the time to give you feedback, from my perspective, it’s helpful to hold onto the notion that this means they care. If somebody didn’t care about you, what you were doing, the way that you were coming across, or how things were working between you, then they wouldn’t bother giving you the feedback. If somebody’s taking the time to give you that feedback, then we can assume that they care. This is holding onto a good intention.

So, when somebody tells you something that you find difficult to hear, pause before you react and think about what the good intention might be and how you could take the information differently. For me personally, I like to remember if they didn’t care about me, they wouldn’t share that information.

Remember good intent, to help you react the way that you want to.


  1. Keep a Growth Mindset

Sometimes, we can see feedback as something that points out our flaws or our areas of opportunity. At the end of the day, nobody is perfect.

The people that are most successful in life tend to have  what we call ” a growth mindset”; which means they see mistakes as opportunities to do things differently and they see feedback as great information on how to adjust. Generally, when things don’t go as they planned, they see those moments as opportunities to pivot, to learn something, and to grow. So, if you can try to put feedback into that category it can really change your mindset from “oh this is terrible, I’m not very good” to “oh this is useful information, I can grow from this!”

Remember, try adopting a growth mindset.


  1. Explore for better understanding 

Sometimes when people present us with feedback that’s difficult to hear, it conflicts with what we believe to be true or what our perception is. But, what we do know as people is that we have a lot of biases. One of them, that we often have, is that we seek out information that confirms what we think we already know. So, sometimes feedback can be a perspective that we haven’t considered. Rather than jumping to a reaction, or responding directly to the person, take the time to thank them for providing feedback and explore by asking questions.

Could you tell me more about that?

When can you see me doing this?

What impact does that have for you?

This will be easier to do if you remember good intention and hold onto a growth mindset. It will be harder to explore if you find yourself in a negative frame of mind.


  1. Decide what you want to do

 Just because somebody gives you feedback, doesn’t mean that you need to act on it. However, if this is a pattern – more than one person has given you this feedback – then it is certainly something to think about. If that person is talking to you about a relationship or a situation that’s important, it’s worth considering how their perspective might help you be better. What could you do with that information in the future to be more effective? Take time to process the feedback and think about where that might have shown up in other places or how that feedback can help you in the next situation.

What action can you take in the short term?

We know that building habits is easy if you put focus and attention on it. We can create new wiring in the brain rather easily, but sustaining a habit is hard. When you identify why somebody has given you feedback, think about what small change you could make – something that’s easy for you to adjust that you could do within the next 2 weeks – and where you could apply it. You can then start to really apply the feedback, with practice.



These are our top 4 tips for handling feedback that’s given to you, whether it’s challenging to you or not. Hopefully if you can start to adopt a growth mindset and see feedback as something that’s helpful and aimed to helping you grow, then going forward feedback won’t be quite so challenging.

It’s all meant to help us develop.

For more information on how to give feedback, for some of our workshops on how to give feedback, or for tools and tips on how to give and receive feedback with grace, get in touch with us at contact@ethree.ca.

You might also want to read some of our other blog posts



Good Luck!