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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wednesday: Receiving Feedback with Grace

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Workplace Wednesday we explore how you can use the Healthy Minds Framework to support your well-being when receiving feedback at work.

We’ve written before about how to use the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being to give feedback to direct reports, colleagues, and managers. But what about receiving feedback? If you are one of those individuals who dreads reviews and braces for criticism, the whole process of being evaluated may feel overwhelming and something to just “get through.” While harsh criticism can be hard for anyone, handling reviews with grace and acceptance can provide endless benefits. You take stress off your reviewers, you can learn something from the feedback and improve, and you can take the sting off these types of interactions by preventing emotional reactivity. 

Here’s your guide to using Awareness, Connection, Insight and Purpose to receive feedback:

  • Awareness: Bring awareness to your reactions. You’ve been busy training your mind through meditation to be more aware in the present moment for just these types of situations. A great way to start a review is to take one minute before the meeting to bring awareness to your body and mind. The more you can be with your feelings, the more likely you are to not react. The key to receiving feedback is to listen mindfully and to avoid immediate reactions. Just listen, notice your thoughts, notice your breath – but don’t react. To take it to the next level – after you have mindfully listened, when they are done, repeat back what you heard. This helps clarify the feedback and tells your reviewer that you get it.

  • Connection: Feel compassion for your reviewer. It’s not easy to give constructive feedback, especially if you are conflict averse. So, assume positive intent – the person giving you a review is just trying to do their job and support you, and may be nervous over your potential reaction. If you can take that perspective, this review is really an act of kindness by both you and the reviewer. Feeling that compassion for your reviewer takes the focus off of your feelings and moves it to the information instead. When they’re done, show some appreciation. Express gratitude for the feedback – and really mean it.

  • Insight: Question your beliefs and spot growth. Much of the dread associated with receiving feedback comes less from your reviewer’s words and more from your own beliefs. For example, if you take a piece of feedback and conflate it with the worst possible outcome, “This is horrible, I will probably be fired,” you are reinforcing your perceptions rather than reality. With insight, we ask ourselves questions and poke holes in our assumptions. You can do this before and after the review. Before – “What expectations do I have about this conversation? Are those really true?” After – “How did the conversation actually go? Were my expectations correct or just a story I told myself?” Part of being human is learning from your challenges. With insight, you are more able to spot the positive aspect of the feedback to see how you can grow and improve. 

  • Purpose: Tie the feedback to your most innate values. With purpose, we try to bring a sense of purpose to even the most mundane tasks in our life so that they are relevant to our personal motivations and values. The practice is to apply this frame of mind to receiving feedback. So, if you have a deep motivation to bring kindness to the world – this feedback can support improving your interpersonal relationships at work. Or, if you value keeping your family supported and safe, you can take this feedback knowing that it will only help you improve at work – creating financial stability.

You’ve listened, asked questions to clarify, felt compassion for your reviewer, questioned your assumptions, and tied it all into a greater sense of purpose. At this point, you may want to ask for time to follow up. This can give you the space you need to process and reflect on the feedback and if warranted, provide your different perspective. You can also identify clear, actionable ways to improve.

Everyone responds to feedback differently and much of it might depend on your own state of mind. Whatever you can do to receive it with grace will have both short term and long term benefits for you, your reviewer, and your organization. We hope you are able to count on the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being at your next review!


Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with Healthy Minds @Work or by downloading our free Healthy Minds Program app. Dive deeper into the scientific framework for well-being by registering for our Healthy Minds Masterclass: Founders Edition.


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