Questions to Ask After Receiving Feedback

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This week’s tip is about receiving feedback with clarity, specifics, and clear next steps.

Often, folks see the feedback relationship as a monologue rather than the dialogue it should be. Just as often, the feedback giver and receiver bring baggage (anxiety, defensiveness, etc.) into the feedback relationship – particularly when it involves negative feedback.

To address these issues, among others, it can be a smart move by the receiver to begin asking questions upon receipt of the feedback. This will bring the feedback communications into a conversation — which is where issues can be resolved before they become issues. It’s magical how this maneuver can lead to healthier and more productive feedback conversations.

While these five questions may not apply to every situation (such as fixing a typo), they are broadly applicable and can help ensure clear communication around negative feedback.

Abstract painting with two figures pointing to a sign that reads: Feedback is a two-way conversation
Source: Cameron Conaway. Image created using Magic Media by Canva

1. Seek alignment through reflecting listening

This involves rephrasing or mirroring. You might ask:

“To make sure I understand this, you think I could improve if I did…?”

2. Get specifics

Even if alignment is found in rephrasing, the received feedback may be too vague for you to understand what’s being asked. In such an event, always ask something like:

“So I understand what to work on, can you provide specific examples of what you noticed? Or maybe specific examples of what you think excellence looks like in this regard?”

3. Make it time-bound

Some feedback can be incorporated immediately, but at other times, you may be uncertain of when to incorporate it. You might ask something like:

“I can start working on this at the beginning of next quarter. Does that work for you, or do you have a different time frame in mind?”

4. Find training

With clarity and timing in place, and if the feedback is in an area you wish to improve, you may still be left wondering how you can develop in the weakness highlighted. You can ask:

“Do you have recommendations for how I can receive training or practice in this area?”

5. Schedule a follow-up

You might ask:

“I’m committed to improving in this regard. Can we schedule a future date to check in about my progress on this?”

This will show the feedback giver how seriously you are taking their feedback, and it’s a way to lock in the vital step of getting feedback on how you’ve adopted the feedback.

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