Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


How Open Are You To Feedback?

Recently, I received a note from a vendor after giving him some critical feedback. He wrote:

“I take a lot of pride in my work and in my business, and even though it is difficult to hear negative comments upon completion of a job, I respect and appreciate your honesty. Your feedback will go a long way in helping me grow my business.”

What a great response to my comments. Would you respond in a similar manner if you heard criticism about your work?

It is easy to brush feedback aside, get defensive, and/or make excuses. Yet, you can gain valuable insights from the comments of others. As a speaker, I receive feedback from seminar participants all the time. I love hearing the many wonderful comments and truly appreciate the suggestions for improvement – many of which have been implemented in my classes.

The next time you receive feedback, review your response against this list. Did you…

1. Listen to the person. Let the individual complete his/her thoughts. Don't interrupt or argue.

2. Ask yourself: Who is giving you the feedback? If the feedback is from your customer, you need to consider the suggestions and implement them, if appropriate. If the feedback is from your boss, generally it’s advisable to make the suggested changes.

3. Learn as much as you can. Ask for the details about the situation, if they were not given. If you say, “Tell me more,” it will let the person know you are open to feedback, and you will often gain more information as a result.

4. Engage in the discussion. Paraphrase what you have heard. Saying something like, “You’re suggesting that…,” will make sure you have grasped the person’s points. You may also want to explain, without making an excuse. For example, people will occasionally correct what they believe is an error in something I have written. If I am sure that I am correct, I will politely respond that their comments reflect only one way of writing. Rules may differ depending upon the style manual used, and we are most likely using different manuals.

5. Acknowledge/fix the problem. Sometimes you acknowledge the mistake by saying, “You’re right. It won’t happen again.” This usually ends the discussion. In other situations, you may want to let the person know what you will be doing differently in the future. This can be done on the spot or at a later time.

6. Thank the person. Receiving feedback is an opportunity to improve your skills or your business, and to maintain your relationship with the person. Whether your critic’s comments are positive or negative, make sure you say “Thank you” at the end of the conversation. Often, you can follow up with a note explaining the benefit of your conversation.

Additional information on feedback can be found in my book, The Power of Positive Confrontation.

For information on seminars or coaching, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141.


  1. Anonymous7/25/2012

    From A Reader:
    Barbara, valuable thoughts on this thorny problem. I'd put it also another way round - how to get your challenges and comments accepted and taken in a positive light. The central issue is to ask, "What is the intention of the person giving the feedback?" If you're giving the feedback it's always as well to ask yourself whether your intentions are of the purest - not coloured by jealousy, one-up-manship or irritation. And even if you perceive the person giving you feedback as having mixed reasons for doing so, it's as well to recognise that they're not criticising you just the performance, and keeping your mind and ears open.

  2. Anonymous7/25/2012

    From A Reader:
    This is a great article, Barbara.Thanks for sharing these valuable pieces of advice. I have learned some of my greatest lessons by putting my pride in my pocket and being grateful for feedback; constructive criticism is worth it's weight in gold!

  3. Anonymous7/25/2012

    From A Reader:
    Barbara, this is a great article. To take it a step further, I always liked to share with my customers and vendors how their critical comments have been utilized in my business and the resulting success thereof. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Anonymous7/26/2012

    From A Reader:
    Bottom line, compliments improves my mood and increases my confidence, but critical feedback provides information that can make my performance stronger.

  5. Anonymous7/26/2012

    From A Reader:
    Others see what we do not see, so it is good to get feedback, even if it makes you take a hard look at the way you are doing things and ways to improve. Sometimes your critics are your greatest motivators!

  6. Anonymous7/26/2012

    From A Reader:
    How else will I improve? Feedback is a gift; bring it!

  7. Anonymous7/27/2012

    From A Reader:
    Feedback is the backbone of improvement.
    Many years ago, having done a course in multimedia, I thought my training ppt was the bee's knees.... just perfect. I had used every trick in the bag, gradients, custom animation and a little photoshop here and there.
    It so happended that the MD and CEO of a large software company attended my workshop. (more to gauge it) Their comment on the feedback form read, " Excellent workshop, but the graphics were satisfactory... need to be worked on."
    Boy! did I pull up my socks!!

  8. Invaluable advice as always! Hopefully readers will read your book The Power of Positive Confrontation the way I did more than a decade ago and benefit.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment!