Very few people actually enjoy seeking feedback — but perhaps it’s because we think of feedback as something it’s not. It doesn’t always have to be couched in criticism and negativity, resentment and bias. In fact, feedback can be a positive tool that provides new opportunities for learning and growing! We just need to “fix” how we define it.

Authors M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Grealish offer a new and more ambitious definition of feedback in their book Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It. They explain how feedback got such a bad rap, and how to recognize and minimize the negative physical and emotional responses that can erode trust and shut down communication.

Here are a few key thoughts from their book to help you make the most of giving and receiving feedback.

Shift Into Growth Mode

“When receiving feedback, the greatest gift you can give yourself is to shift your mind into growth mode and openly consider what comes your way from the lens of how it can help you improve.”

“My initial reaction as a recipient of feedback is to recoil. My knee jerk response internally is to take it as criticism for how ‘I should be doing my work.’ What I’ve learned by reading Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) is how to reframe my own mindset about feedback and even learn to become a more active Seeker. We can all benefit from being open to the perspectives and insights of others. If I can kick the fear out of receiving feedback, I can truly open my heart to change and improvement. I love to grow and learn in my career and receiving feedback is a part of that process.” — Kristin E.

Increase Openness and Understanding

“Each time we participate in a challenging conversation with greater calm and heightened self-awareness, we create or reinforce neural pathways in our brains that will allow for more positive responses under stress in the future. The better we get at handling our fear (in this case, the fear of feedback), the less threatening these situations become.”

“This was one of the most impactful excerpts from Feedback. Insight into how to reframe my thinking surrounding receiving feedback was incredibly insightful. I think, for most, we don’t want to hear when we are doing something incorrectly or when we are not meeting someone expectations. I often like to blame my failures or shortcomings on someone or something outside of my control. But reframing my mindset to one of openness and understanding is helping me create a shift in how I approach my work. Feedback is for me, not against me. Growth, both personally and professionally, cannot truly take place without giving and receiving feedback — both positive and negative.” — Erica H.

Share More Positive Feedback

Positive feedback tells people to keep doing the good stuff, do it even more frequently, do it well, and hone their strengths and contributions. Positive feedback is inspirational; it elevates us and gives us the impetus to try harder.”

“When I am in a position as a lead on a project, I’ve learned how focus, frequency, and fairness play a role in feedback. It’s all of those elements infused together that create an optimal feedback experience! I enjoyed how the book placed an emphasis on positive feedback and why it’s worth sharing. I want those whom I am leading to understand how I value their contribution, what specifically they’ve done well, and what great qualities I see in them! Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) has inspired me to hone in on the ‘frequency’ aspect of giving feedback. It doesn’t take but a moment to share positive feedback with someone, and I hope to become more proactive with how often I do it.” — Kristin E.

Have you read ‘Feedback (and Other Dirty Words)’? What were your biggest takeaways?