Our reaction to feedback is the single most important factor for success in life!



Is the way you react to feedback building or busting your success?

Are you afraid of giving or receiving negative feedback?

Are you disappointed with what you are achieving? 


There is a simple solution.

Much of my work with leaders and managers revolves around helping them to be more effective.  A critical element to effectiveness is being willing to tackle difficult workplace situations.  The challenge is that many of us shy away from situations which we fear may involve negative feedback.

In the pre-work to many of my leadership programs, it is not uncommon for three quarters of the managers in any given program to indicate that the reason they haven’t tackled a particular situation is that the person concerned doesn’t receive feedback well.

In order to counter this reluctance, I put up the following quote;

“Our reaction to feedback is the single most important factor for success in life!”

And then I encourage them to argue against it.

They try…

Skills & ability

A typical response might refer to a person’s skills and abilities as being a major factor for success.  However, we develop those abilities in response to feedback we receive as we “trial and error” our way forward.  None of us learn to ride a bike without making mistakes.  Feedback was falling off or wobbling all over the path, or in my case, running over my best friend as she tried to help me maintain my balance.


Another response might be “effort”.  However effort alone isn’t enough.  For instance, I might be learning my alphabet and and working hard writing the letter “a” over and over again.  However, if I am writing “a” incorrectly (ie. Ω, Ω, Ω, Ω, Ω), then all I am doing is reinforcing an error.  I need feedback such as from a textbook or a teacher in order to discover that I need to adjust my efforts.

The cost of fearing feedback is isolation.

If I fear feedback, then I’m not going to ask questions.  If I don’t ask, then it can’t be discussed … or I am doomed to hinting obliquely at what I want to have happen.  If I don’t ask, then how will I know whether the other party’s actions were deliberately obstructive or intended to be helpful?  Or maybe they were simply unaware of the impact their behaviour had?  Equally, if I can’t discuss it, then they can’t receive feedback to improve their performance.  So both of us lose out.

If we can help people see that feedback is the single most important factor for success in life, then we can start embracing it and using the information we gain to our betterment.  That doesn’t mean to say we have to enjoy it if someone is particularly pugnacious in the way they deliver their feedback; however we don’t need to take their manner to heart.

Feedback is the way forward.  

If we are not getting the results that we want, then what do we need to do differently in order to get a more favourable outcome?  Who do we need to ask?  What feedback do we need and where can we get it?



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