Giving and receiving feedback at work
Giving and receiving feedback is important - it helps to identify things that are going well and areas for improvement.
If you don't understand the feedback, ask questions. Ask for examples of what went well, or suggestions on what could be done differently.
If you are finding it difficult to cope with your emotions, take some time to reflect before you talk with your supervisor.
Your work supervisor will provide you with feedback about your job performance. This allows you to know what you’re doing well and in what areas you can improve. You may also have opportunities to give feedback to your supervisor – for example, they might ask whether their instructions are specific and clear enough for you to understand, or whether they need to adjust their communication style.
If you think that a colleague or your supervisor has done well in a particular job task, it’s a good idea to acknowledge them for it. You can do this casually by complimenting them on their good work or writing them a nice email. This type of behaviour is seen as a kind gesture and promotes a friendly and supportive work relationship among employees.
On the other hand, you may want to give constructive feedback at work. Depending on the situation, this can be tricky, so you need to be wary of how you approach it. The best way to address any potential concerns or suggestions is by speaking to your supervisor, and it is a good idea not to do this in front of your co-workers. Make sure that you express your feedback to your supervisor in a way that’s honest and supportive.
In some cases, the concern or problem you have identified may be easily fixed. If the issue is something serious that directly affects you – such as bullying – you may be required to engage in a follow-up meeting or mediation with your supervisor and other people at the workplace. Either way, your supervisor is trained to handle any of your concerns in an appropriate manner.
Receiving positive feedback is relatively easy – give the person a big smile and say ‘thank you’, and then give yourself a pat on the back!
Receiving negative feedback, on the other hand, might cause you to feel anxious or worried that you are not good enough. However, think about how you can use negative feedback to help you in the future. If your supervisor tells you about a concern with your job performance that you did not previously know, then you now have the opportunity to learn from the negative feedback and find ways to improve how you do the job.
It is natural for anyone to feel anxious about negative feedback, even when it is given constructively. It is important to be gracious about it and not argue or lose your cool. Many people find it helpful to give themselves a day or two to think about it before replying or asking for clarification. This also gives you time to talk to others like your family and friends.
If you don’t understand the feedback that you receive, ask your supervisor for a specific example of what you might not be doing as well as expected and ask them for some suggestions on how to improve. If needed, give yourself a day to think about the feedback and process your emotions. After some reflection, you may feel better equipped and ready to talk to your supervisor about the feedback.
If you find it especially difficult to cope with negative feedback, you might like to talk to someone in your family, a friend, or a trusted professional. You might also like to check out our article on Learning from your mistakes.