When receiving feedback for development, some degree of defensiveness is human nature. People typically seek to avoid even slightly negative comments about themselves or their abilities.  During these times, it is common to focus on deflecting the feedback instead of listening and trying to understand and consider it.

To combat the natural tendency to deflect feedback, it’s important to apply techniques for better listening and feedback receptivity.

The techniques below are not exhaustive but reflect productive ways to avoid deflecting feedback. These also help the feedback giver to be clear and help to increase the feedback receiver’s ability to take action on the feedback.  They can be used individually or in combination.  Choose the most appropriate technique(s) for your situation.  If using more than one, it might be helpful to apply them in the order shown.

Receptivity Techniques


Transform a negative feeling into a neutral or open stance.

Change what you tell yourself before responding to developmental feedback. Instead of noting discomfort, think, “This could be helpful.”

LISTEN TO LEARN Be attentive and silent to allow the other person to speak and to ensure you fully hear all the information. Listen to learn rather than to defend. During the discussion, pause periodically to allow space for the other person to elaborate.
SEEK DETAILS Before offering your reaction, seek specifics about situations, behaviors, actions, results, and alternatives to make sure you have a complete STAR/AR.
ADMIT MISTAKES  If you agree with or realize where you erred or could have been more effective, admit it.

Learning how to listen to, accept, and learn from feedback is an essential part of being an effective leader, and you can learn more about it when you attend one of our leadership coaching programs or seminars. Register for one of our programs today:  www.thecarmangroup.com/events