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Meaningful ways to increase your productivity, performance and well-being backed up by scientific research.

Getting the Feedback you Need.

Are you ready to close the feedback loop? Let’s shift our focus to asking for and accepting feedback!

I hope I have already persuaded you that feedback can be good – it can help us grow and meet (or exceed!) our goals. Yet asking for and receiving feedback can be tricky. We can be our own worst critic – we know our weaknesses and we think we know what we need to work on… Yet it’s also possible that we are not accurate or objective in assessing ourselves. We all have blind spots and we may not know how we are getting in the way of our own success. This is where getting some constructive feedback can be helpful.

So how can you ask for – and get – constructive feedback to help you grow? Follow these guidelines:

  1. Remember the growth mindset? Having a growth mindset can help us re-frame our mistakes as opportunities to learn. When you are thinking about asking for feedback, or when someone has offered you feedback, begin by reminding yourself that you are always learning and growing. Our brains are moldable and adaptable – we can learn new things and grow from our mistakes. When we know better we can do better. Mistakes are okay, mistakes help us learn!
  2. Ask someone you trust. This person should also have a clear view into the work you are doing and how you are performing on a regular basis. It might be tempting to ask for feedback from a senior leader who saw your presentation, yet they only see the end result of your work and not everything that you did to prepare for the presentation. So think instead of someone who sees the whole of your work as they will most likely have a bigger window into your work and your working style and have great insights for you. (Don’t get me wrong – it can be incredibly helpful to ask a senior leader for feedback, too, but they will likely be giving you feedback at a higher level rather than on more nuanced skills you use on a daily basis.)
  3. Ask, “What is one thing I am doing that is getting in my own way?”  Or, another version: “What one thing I can do to be more effective?” when you have a few uninterrupted minutes with this person – it might be in a one-on-one meeting or it could be in the time you have between meetings. These questions focus on getting just one piece of feedback. Why just one? It makes the feedback process less overwhelming. The person will likely sort through their mental list of the things you could do better, and choose one of the biggest items on that list. If you are asking for only one thing, they will focus their feedback and this will allow you to focus your attention and energy as well. After they share their answer, it can be helpful to ask follow-up questions, like: “Can you give me an example?” or “How do you recommend I work on this?” or “Tell me more about how I can work on this.” Try to get specific information so you know where to focus your energy.
  4. Be grateful. As you get their feedback and ask follow-up questions, remember you asked them for feedback – thank them for sharing their time, their insights and their support. Whether you agree with the feedback or not, when you are asking for feedback you need to keep your defensiveness under control. Remember that we all have blind-spots and they may have just exposed one of yours. If the feedback makes you feel defensive, pause, share your gratitude and take some time to reflect on the feedback. Try to separate out what you think is valuable – what can you try to do differently and what can you change about how you do your work – from what may not be valuable.
  5. Act on it and have fun with it – this is where you get to show that you care enough about your job to get better at it and really shine! Do some mini-experiments to see how you can work on the skill that was mentioned and see if your results improve. Keep your growth mindset for this part. Not every mini-experiment will go perfectly, but trying different things out will help you discover new skills and new ways to succeed.

Asking for feedback, receiving the feedback graciously and taking action to improve your performance are excellent strategies to help you excel in your career. When you ask for feedback you are demonstrating your commitment to improve and bring greater value to your organization. And, just like giving feedback, the more you practice the better you will get!


Dweck, C. S., & Yeager, D. S. (2019). Mindsets: A few from two eras. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 14(3), 481-496. . https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691618804166

Heen, S. & Stone, D. (2014, January-February). Finding the coaching in criticism: The right ways to receive feedback. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/01/find-the-coaching-in-criticism