Jim VandeHei CEO of online media company Axios.

VandeHei noted that feedback is essential.  Sometimes it comes out of the blue and is expressed bluntly.  He gives five pieces of advice on receiving “blunt” feedback.  His advice is in bold, and my thoughts follow.

1.  Listen.  The best thing to do with direct feedback is to stay quiet and take it in.  If you say anything at all, repeat it to make sure you heard it correctly, or just say thank you.  

 2.  Assume positive intent.  Feedback is “courageous communication.”  When someone risks giving unpleasant feedback, the receiver should assume it’s for their good and the team.  To assume positive intent helps to assure it will happen again.  The more feedback that flows, the greater the chances of improvement.

 3.  Don’t be defensive.  If you want to cut off feedback, respond defensively.  Deny it.  Reject it.  Argue about it.  It’s the worst kind of response to feedback that could be helpful.  

 4.  Ask for it.  Many people need permission to give feedback, especially bosses.  So, seek it out. 

 5.  Act on it.  The best way to acknowledge feedback is to act on it.  It says to the feedback givers that they were heard.  That their feedback inspired action.  That their opinions/ideas/thoughts matter.  It opens avenues for more to come.  

One of the questions we ask in our annual survey every year is whether you’ve received feedback in the last seven days.  Traditionally, it’s the area where we can show the most improvement.

But know this.  The more we embed feedback in our actions, the better we are.