How to Receive Feedback in the Workplace

8th March, 2023

Learning how to receive feedback in the workplace is an essential aspect of leadership development. If you want to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, grow as a person, and become a more confident leader, receiving feedback is critical. However, receiving feedback constructively can be a challenge, especially in the workplace. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between receiving feedback constructively versus destructively, the 3Rs of feedback model and provide tips on how to handle criticism at work with emotional intelligence.


Receiving Feedback Constructively

Receiving feedback constructively means being open to feedback and using it to improve your performance. It involves being receptive to feedback, even if it’s negative, and adopting a growth mindset. A growth mindset means viewing feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a personal attack. Doing this requires you to master the art of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize and control your emotions effectively.


Receiving Feedback Destructively

Receiving feedback destructively is a common problem that many people face. When we resist, react, or reject feedback, we miss out on opportunities for growth and improvement. We can also damage relationships and our own credibility. Here’s how each of these destructive behaviours can manifest in the workplace:

  1. Resist: When we resist feedback, we may become defensive or deny responsibility for our actions. We may argue with the person giving us feedback or dismiss their opinions. This can make the other person feel unheard and create tension in the workplace.
  2. React: When we react to feedback, we may blame others or become angry and upset. We may take the feedback as a personal attack and lash out at the person giving it. This can damage relationships and make it difficult for others to provide us with feedback in the future.
  3. Reject: When we reject feedback, we may ignore it or refuse to change our behavior. We may hold a grudge against the person giving the feedback or become closed-minded to any future feedback. This can lead to missed opportunities for growth and improvement.

Several years ago, I recall doing a feedback exercise with a team and a certain leader. The team were instructed to discuss and agree one key point the leader should keep doing, start doing and stop doing. The leader was briefed on how to receive feedback constructively (using the 3R’s of feedback model). We also spent substantial time discussing what receiving feedback destructively looks like (relating to resist, react and reject).

Despite coaching, and the leader’s acknowledgment and awareness on how to receive feedback constructively as opposed to destructively, he still found it difficult to avoid resisting, reacting and rejecting the feedback he received. To cut a long story short, let’s just say there was more work to do to help him improve his emotional intelligence.

So, what can you do if you find yourself resisting, reacting, or rejecting feedback? Implement the tips below to develop your emotional intelligence when receiving feedback.


Emotional Intelligence in Feedback

Emotional intelligence is a critical factor in receiving feedback constructively. When receiving feedback, it’s essential to control your emotions effectively, otherwise, they’ll interfere with the feedback process. Here are some tips for controlling your emotions when receiving feedback:

  1. Take a deep breath: When receiving feedback, take a deep breath and pause for a moment. This will help you control your emotions and respond to feedback constructively.
  2. Listen actively: When receiving feedback, listen actively and try to understand the other person’s perspective. Avoid interrupting or getting defensive.
  3. Acknowledge the feedback: When you receive the feedback, acknowledge it; even if you don’t agree with it. This will show that you’re receptive to feedback and willing to learn.

If you want to learn more about controlling your emotions in the context of the 3Rs of Feedback Model, check out Boosting Our Emotional Intelligence: The 3R Model.

emotional intelligence in feedback

How to Receive Feedback in the Workplace – The 3Rs of Feedback Model

The 3Rs of feedback model developed by Tasha Eurich is a helpful framework for receiving feedback constructively. The model contains three steps: receiving feedback, reflecting on feedback, and responding to feedback.


1. Receiving Feedback in the Workplace

Feedback could come from managers, your colleagues, and customers. To receive feedback constructively, it’s essential to seek feedback actively and be receptive to it. Here are some tips for receiving feedback in the workplace:

  • Ask for feedback regularly: Ask your manager, colleagues, and customers for feedback regularly. This will give you a solid perspective on your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • Be open to feedback: When receiving feedback, be open to it, even if it’s negative. Avoid getting defensive or making excuses.
  • Clarify the feedback: If you’re not sure about the feedback you receive, ask for clarification. This will help you understand the feedback and respond to it effectively.


2. Reflecting on Feedback

Reflecting on feedback is essential to receiving feedback constructively. Always take time to process and understand the feedback you receive. Never react to it immediately. Here are some tips for reflecting on feedback:

  • Take a break: When receiving feedback, take a break before reflecting on it. This will help you manage your emotions and respond to the feedback constructively.
  • Analyze the feedback: When reflecting on feedback, analyze it and identify areas for improvement. Avoid dwelling on the negative aspects of the feedback.
  • Identify an action plan: Based on the feedback you receive, identify an action plan that includes specific, measurable goals and timelines. This will help you respond to the feedback effectively and make improvements.

how to receive feedback in the workplace

3. Responding to Feedback

Responding to feedback is the final step in the 3Rs of feedback model. It involves taking action based on the feedback you receive, rather than ignoring or dismissing it. Here are some tips for responding to feedback:

  • Develop an action plan: Based on the feedback you receive, develop an action plan. Ensure you include specific, measurable goals and timelines
  • Take ownership: When responding to feedback, take ownership of your actions and mistakes. Avoid blaming others or making excuses.
  • Follow up: Follow up with the person who provided the feedback to let them know how you’ve responded to it. This will demonstrate that you’re committed to making improvements and value their feedback.

To dive deeper into the 3R Model of Feedback and to learn to develop your self-awareness (a critical element in your leadership development), read Insight by Tasha Eurich.



Receiving feedback constructively is an essential skill to help you become a more confident leader. It involves being open to feedback, managing your emotions effectively, and adopting a growth mindset. The 3Rs of feedback model, consisting of receiving feedback, reflecting on feedback, and responding to feedback, provides a useful framework for receiving feedback constructively. By following the tips above, you can learn how to handle criticism at work with emotional intelligence and use feedback to improve your performance. Always remember, feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace feedback with a growth mindset and you will see the positive changes it will bring to your personal and professional life.

To learn about giving feedback in the workplace, check out the 7 Best Practices for Giving Feedback Effectively.


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