Do You See Feedback as a Complaint or a Gift?

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Many people claim to appreciate feedback until they get some. Do you view feedback as a gift or a drama-filled annoyance? Read how to handle this.

Many people indicate they would appreciate feedback, yet many who say they want it really don’t. Nor do they accept it well. What is your track record in receiving feedback, especially if it is unsolicited? Do you really want it and are you willing to do something about the information given? Or is it something you get defensive about in regard to how you run your business or do your job?

Feedback is information you would not know otherwise and it should be considered a gift. Whether it is from customers or employees, colleagues or friends, someone is trying to help you learn from their experience when they offer you feedback. You may not agree with them, and you don’t have to, but do accept the feedback as you would any other gift – with a word of thanks.

Feedback: Nothing but Complaints or Wanted Gifts?If you appreciate their comments and actually want more information from them, ask for a deeper explanation and then apply these simple steps:

Reflect on the feedback and try to understand the information from the perspective of the person providing you the gift. Try to be objective and gain a sense of their position, thoughts, and behavior. Accept the gift with humility and a sense of openness to their input. Remember…they did not have to take the time to try and help you.

Assess the information given. Have you heard similar feedback from others or is this new information? You may need to ask others for their input to see if they agree or not. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if things are not going as well in your business as you hoped they would be by now.

Improve. Based on the reflection and assessment, you can decide what to do next. Perhaps you have enough information to design a change strategy with measurable goals for improvement. Or, based on the assessment, you might decide that nothing needs to be done right now. While no changes may occur, it would be wise to be more aware of this feedback topic in case it comes up again.

Follow-up with the person who gave you the feedback to thank them for the gift of information and to let them know what, if anything, you plan to do in response to their feedback. (If you don’t follow-up with this person, you shouldn’t expect them to give any future feedback that may help you.) In your follow-up, you don’t have to ask how you could have done better unless you are open to considering these changes. There is no need to waste anyone's time if you are unwilling to take action on their additional input.

Something to be concerned about regarding feedback:

If you are not receiving any feedback at all, that might be a problem in itself. Others may no longer give feedback to you for fear of how you will receive and react to it, or they may have simply given up because you did not do anything with previous feedback they provided. If you are not hearing feedback in the areas of strengths or opportunities for improvement, programs, products and services, or your organization as an entity, then something is seriously wrong – and that needs to change!

Through my research center, we have experience producing stakeholder satisfaction, market information, and communication surveys. Check out how you can easily be proactive and build your brand to be much better than what it currently is.

Read some of our reports generated in the past at

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Dr. Rich Schuttler

Dr. Rich Schuttler

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About Dr. Rich

Dr. Rich is a mentor for executives, faculty, and students around the world in a variety of professional leadership and management settings. 

He is a customer driven, quality focused, innovative and engaging international public speaker, educator, business consultant, mentor and author with over 20 years of expertise.

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