The intersection of technology and leadership

A Guide to Receiving Feedback Part VI: It’s Okay To Disagree

DisagreeingAs a person receiving feedback, you may find you can’t understand what the other person is trying to tell you. You’ve already put significant effort shaping effective feedback out of whatever it is the donor gives you. First you focused on fact finding, uncovering your specific behaviours. You then asked some questions identifying how the donor interpreted the impact.

Remembering that effective feedback is aimed at helping you, the recipient, Strengthen Confidence or Improve Effectiveness, you may find, at some point, the donor’s feedback isn’t doing either. Perhaps you don’t remember your own behaviours, or you see the impact being different. It’s your responsiblitiy as a recipient to seek actions that help you Strengthen Confidence or Improve Effectiveness and if you cannot find out how changing your behaviour will help you do either, then it’s okay to disagree.

Make sure you thank the donor for their feedback, helping them understand how and why you the feedback doesn’t Strengthen Your Confidence or Improve Your Effectiveness. Only when you’ve done everything you possibly could to uncover effective feedback, then is it okay to disagree with the feedback.

Don’t feel like you have to respond and agree with every part of feedback. At some point, interpretation of impact requires a matter of perception, and people often remember facts quite differently from what actually happenned.

The image above is taken from Twilsoncom’s flickr stream under the creative commons licence


  1. Sumeet Moghe

    Sometimes when I can’t uncover effective feedback, I ask for permission to reflect on it.

    What I often say in such situations, “I’m struggling to see how I can apply some of your suggestions to the way I work. If you don’t mind, can I get some time to reflect on this and maybe we can catch up at another time?”

    Often just the act of taking that break for reflection allows me to understand the feedback better — on some occasions its allowed the ‘giver’ to frame the feedback better.

  2. Patrick

    I, too, like you’re suggestion about taking a break to understand it better. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will still find it. I find that giving my permission to disagree (doesn’t mean that I do) eases some of the pressure of trying to uncover the effective feedback.

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