Linkedin Twitter  YouTube

How do you receive feedback?

How do you respond when you receive feedback? Thankful, or do you respond like a porcupine? Maybe you react like a bitten dog?

I used to react like a porcupine. There’s a complex dynamic going on with feedback. You shouldn’t ask too much for it, as you may appear insecure, and asking too little may not give you the feedback you need. It's a matter of striking the right balance. People often find feedback difficult to give. But they also find it difficult to receive. At many companies, giving more feedback is high on their agenda. Management realizes that the behavior of their employees makes a difference. But in practice it hardly happens.

Over the years I have learned to deal with feedback much more easily. The similarities in the feedback that I receive are often that I can be very ambitious, and therefore sometimes very demanding for my environment. For some people I can be too direct in personal contact. Finally, I had to learn not to make changes all the time. New ideas flow for me naturally, but I have learned that I don't have to do something with every idea. I am grateful for all the people who provided me with feedback in the past and still do. In short, you get used to it and it is my best chance to become more effective. I look at it this way: I just continue to be myself, but in a slightly better version.

What can you do to make feedback an integral part of the way you work?

  • From now on, ask someone for feedback once a month. Not about the content (what) but about the way (how) you approached something.
  • Monitor yourself by putting feedback in your agenda as a to-do item. You can check if you completed it each month, and before long you will have created a new habit.
  • Understand that the content of the feedback also says something about the person giving the feedback. Just pay attention when someone asks you a question in casual conversation. Often such a question relates to what is on that person’s own mind at that moment.
  • You don’t have to respond to the content. Only if it is factually incorrect. After all, it is the perception of someone else. You cannot disagree about that.
  • Saying "thank you" is the most effective way to respond to feedback. For yourself and for your reputation.
  • You don't have to make changes to all the feedback you get. It is much more effective to regularly request for feedback and discover the patterns. 

If, in the eyes of society, you are successful in a profession with a great deal of prestige, then make sure to keep a number of people around you who continue to provide you with feedback. If you deal with feedback in a normal way, and show self-awareness, you are an inspiring example for your environment. Because otherwise before you know it, it can become very quiet around you. History has often proven how dangerous that can be. 

Hopefully this inspires.


Paul Donkers


Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater has worked for 40 years with Radical Feedback at all levels in his company. He writes about this in his book Principles.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

Share this column: