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7 Tips to Help You Receive Feedback

I used to be a little defensive at times, but with education, practice, personal work and new experiences, I have become more open to receiving feedback. There are days I'm more vulnerable and less open, but I know this about myself and do my best to own my needs and limitations around that.

For many of us this isn't easy, and yet feedback is a vital source of information about how we are perceived in the world. In addition, when given respectfully, feedback is a gift that can help us build relationships, participate in creative problem-solving and evolve as human beings. 

Here is a list that you can use to optimize learning and minimize discomfort the next time you are in the position to receive feedback. 

Breathe - Remember you are a worthy person, separate from your actions and behaviors. Feedback is from the giver's perspective, and you can choose what to take in. 

Consider your choices - Is it a good or at least reasonable time and place for feedback? Is there a way to schedule a dialogue soon that allows you to honor any needs you have around time, vulnerability, place or other issues?

For example: ​I do want to hear what you have to say, but have to be in a meeting in 5 minutes. Are you available after your shift today or before your shift tomorrow?

I want to hear your feedback. I would like to find a private setting. Are you available to have coffee after work?

If this is a structured personnel evaluation at work, you may have less choice about when and where, but you can always ask.

For example: I've had a very stressful day. Can we postpone my evaluation until later in the week? I'd like to be more rested and receptive than I am at the moment.

Listen carefully and try to drop your defensiveness - Paraphrase the information you are receiving to make sure you understand the information. Validate their perspective and ask questions for clarity. Repeat number 1 above!

For example: It sounds as if you were upset and surprised about the way I handled the situation with my patient's family that involved pain medication. I'm also hearing that you are worried about me. Am I understanding you correctly?

Acknowledge the feedback - Let the person know you have heard him/her and than you will consider the feedback.

For example: I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and value your perspective. I'd like to take some time and reflect on that.

Take time to sort out what you have heard - Give yourself time and space to assimilate and evaluate the information. Remember that it's not necessary to agree or disagree with the feedback. It is simply information. Let go of the need to justify, defend or explain your actions. Don't over-internalize the feedback.

Be honest with yourself - Use feedback as an opportunity to create greater self-awareness. Explore any feelings created by the feedback.

Give yourself credit - Receiving feedback can be hard. 

For example: Wow, that was really hard! I did a good job staying centered during my personnel evaluation. I'm glad I asked and I can wait until tomorrow to offer my feedback.

I find that the more secure I am, the easier it is for me to take in feedback from others. I have learned to take things less personally and respect my needs as part of the process. All sorts of variables may come into play, such as my relationship with the giver of feedback, what is going on in my life, how hungry I am and even the weather! So I do my best. Feedback can be extremely rewarding. On a personal level, it can lead to more awareness, trust and creativity. In the workplace, it contributes to safe and high-quality care, positive workplaces and increased job satisfaction!

*This article originally appeared on ConfidentVoices.com.

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Portrait of Beth Boynton