Editor’s Note: Each week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the former COO of eBay, will offer candid, practical, and sometimes surprising advice to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a question, write to Webb at email@example.com.
Q. I recently received feedback and I didn’t react to it well. I became defensive and I’m disappointed with how I conduced myself. What do I do now?
-Executive at a Fortune 1000 Company
I commend you for recognizing your behavior and your interest in correcting it. Don’t beat yourself up about this. Receiving feedback can be difficult and especially hard in the moment if you are unprepared. Acknowledging your mistake is the most important step in getting better. And, I think this situation is fixable.
Go back to the person who delivered this feedback and take ownership of your response and where you can improve.
- Thank them for taking the time and consideration in sharing specific feedback. Apologize for how you handled the situation.
- Reflect on the conversation and share what you heard so they know that you listened and heard the feedback.
- Specifically address what was brought up and what you are going to do about it.
- Commit to doing a better job of handling feedback in the future.
I know that how you behaved in this situation is not how you want to conduct yourself or be seen. In the future, instead of fretting over feedback, welcome it—and get ahead of it. I know it is a change in mindset, but it will serve you well to become a heat seeker for asking for feedback. Instead of waiting for it, always ask, “Is this working? Is there anything else I should be doing?”
When you do receive feedback, I recommend that you start with an open mind. Try to understand where the advice is coming from. Even if you disagree, sharing feedback is hard and you should view their consideration as a gift. Listen to what is being said. This doesn’t mean you have to accept it, or do it, but you do need to listen to it.
You cannot be afraid of truth. Commit to embracing a learning environment and enlisting your team’s support to help you grow—because every day you can be getting better. Understanding that you’re never done improving will help your career in spectacular ways.