How to Manage Emotions When Giving and Receiving Feedback

by Jim Jensen, FSA

Most of us have been the victim of a pretty bad “receiving feedback session” and to be honest, most of us have also given a few of those too.  It’s not surprising as both giving and receiving feedback is an emotionally charged situation – and when emotions are in play, thoughtfulness and professionalism can very easily go out the window.  Even if it doesn’t turn bad, very few feedback sessions end with honest and constructive feedback being openly welcomed, valued and used.  How can we fix that?

Looking first at addressing the emotional issue, having both the giver and receiver take a few minutes to think consciously about who you ideally are, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to behave (a process we call the  Think2Perform Alignment Model) before you sit down to talk is a great place to start.  As a feedback giver, for example remembering that I want to be a professional and caring leader and remembering that my goals are to both reinforce good work while also trying to help with the other stuff really helps me frame up the discussion.  As a feedback receiver, for example, remembering that I want to be a respectful and caring employee and remembering that my goal is both to feel good about my performance and to continue improving also helps me frame up the discussion.  It’s pretty obvious stuff, but it needs to be consciously done.

Turning to the discussion itself, you might want to try using some questions to drive the self-discovery process that our adult brains often crave.  For example, asking “what are you most proud of?” or “what would you like to see changed?” as a giver can open up the discussion in a non-threatening way.  As a feedback receiver, asking “what do you like best about?” or “what do you think I could improve?” often makes it easy to get both positive and constructive feedback.  With the emotional stress managed and open two-way communication flowing, good things will happen much more often.

Giving and receiving feedback is just one of many situations where emotions can get in the way and result in bad decisions and undesirable outcomes.  Think2Perform is an expert in helping you be at your best in such situations and if you think we might be able to help you, feel free to contact us through our website at .

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