Feedback is Not a Four-Letter Word

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Feedback is Not a Four-Letter Word


This one simple word elicits complicated feelings; but is the one thing we all need to grow.

Whether you are getting or giving feedback, trust is the one component needed to make it land in a positive way. Without trust, feedback – given or received – is met with defensiveness and cynicism.

We have all received embarrassing feedback. Becoming defensive in those moments is normal. Our brain senses feedback as a threat, triggering our fight or flight mechanism, but becoming defensive is counterproductive to our professional development.

The same is true when providing feedback to someone in a high-ranking leadership position. Subordinates fear offering leaders feedback, and leaders who fail to ask wind up missing an opportunity to grow.

No matter how important your title may be, what made you successful will not necessarily maintain your success.  Creating a workplace environment open to feedback starts by building trust. Trust is necessary to grow your influence with others so you can be the leader you were meant to be.

Here are five ways to create a positive workplace culture open to feedback.

  1. Lead by example.

If you want others to trust your feedback, and act on what you have to say, seek feedback first. When you lead by example and demonstrate your desire to improve, others will follow. They will more likely seek feedback and receive it with an open mind and positive attitude.

  1. Seek someone you trust.

Trust goes both ways and is necessary for everyone – the giver and receiver. Without it, you’re likely to become defensive receiving feedback that challenges your own perception. Without it, the giver is likely to refrain from telling you the full truth needed to improve.

  1. Recognize your triggers.

Feedback is meant to help you improve, but that doesn’t make hearing it any less difficult. Before you ask for feedback, consider your personal triggers and how you can properly respond should the feedback sting. How you respond when receiving feedback will determine how much the other person is willing to tell you now and in the future. Maintain trust in the relationship by controlling your reactions.

  1. No need to fear.

Feedback is meant to help you grow professionally but can also help your relationships grow. Most people are not skilled at delivering constructive feedback and may struggle to express their positive intentions. Give them the benefit of the doubt and trust they have your best interests at heart. They don’t want to hurt you; they want to see you succeed. Receive it in the spirit by which it is intended.

  1. Adopt a growth mindset.

Feedback is about professional development and is best received by someone with an open mind. When you willingly seek opportunities to learn, you don’t see mistakes as failures, rather chances to improve. Having a growth mindset means making a conscious choice to seek and receive feedback, leveraging it to improve upon your skills. It means being curious about what others think, and proactively seeking the perceptions of others.


It is normal to feel defensive when hearing feedback; but you don’t have to respond defensively. Build trust in your workplace relationships by seeking feedback and encouraging others to do the same. Grow your influence, and the influence of your team, by providing a safe, open environment to give and receive feedback necessary for success.



Stacey’s Picks:

Full Focus Podcast: Lead to Win

With: Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller


If you missed one of Stacey’s previous blogs or tips, visit her online.

Check out our Research on Influence in conjunction with the University of Northern Colorado HERE.


Influence Research


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