How do I deal with emotional responses to feedback?

Not everyone will react well to feedback. It will take time for some people to open their mindset to the benefits it can bring. During this transition you may encounter situations in which an employee may get angry or emotional after receiving feedback. Here are five steps to help you react appropriately and lead your employee towards the right feedback mindset:


1. Sympathize


Emotional reactions can sometimes trigger emotional responses in return. Avoid letting your emotions respond for you by remembering the psychological factors that make people fear feedback.


2. Help them see it from a different perspective


Your employee may only be seeing their actions from their perspective. Help them to look at the wider context by explaining how their actions impact the team as a whole. For example, “your teammates feel they can’t express their opinions when you interrupt them during meetings.”


3. Explain why change will help them


The key thing they need to understand is that they may have their own way of doing things but getting work done as a team requires you to communicate effectively, deliver things on time and compromise when needed. Having an employee who can work well in a team is even more valuable than someone who is highly skilled but can’t combine their skills with others.


4. Come up with a plan together


To really get them to change their behavior, the next steps must come from both of you. Come up with a plan together. Start off by asking your employee what they think they could do to change or improve. This will give them ownership and encourage them to think about their professional development with a growth mindset.


5. Encourage

Express your confidence in their ability to improve if they follow the action steps you came up with together. Be sure to follow-up regularly and recognize improvements.


This article is part of a management guide about how to become a better leader with feedback. 

Next Guides:


Manager’s Handbook: How will giving more feedback help my team?


Receiving Feedback


Giving Feedback