Feedback Hack: It’s not just about giving…receive.

By Manuel “Manny” Rodriguez, M.S.

bSci21 Contributing Writer

Feedback is a “Gift”?

Have you heard someone say, feedback is a “gift?”  For some, it is a gift you’d rather not receive.  If you do receive it, you want to take it back to where it came from.  If you gave the gift, sometimes you really would have preferred not to give in the first place. In short, feedback is a “gift” not always desired to give or receive.  Yet, feedback is an essential element for creating success in the workplace and effective lines of communication between people.  This much has been proven in the field of organizational behavior management with the abundance of applied and lab based research on the subject matter of feedback (Alvero, A. M., Bucklin, B. R., & Austin, J., 2001).

Feedback is the subject matter of many sources of literature well known in our field, such as Daniels and Bailey’s (2014) Performance Management, and giving feedback is even addressed in the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Supervisor Training Curriculum Outline (2012) and the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (2014).

In work as much as in life, it’s important to know how to give feedback to others, effectively and constructively. But giving feedback is not the subject matter of this article.  This article is dedicated to what I would argue is a missing subject of study, discussion, and professional development – Receiving Feedback.

Receiving Feedback Tips

We are constantly presented with opportunities to receive feedback in a way that helps both ourselves and others, from asking about the way that you carried out a task, to discussing your behavior in a meeting with your team. Yet too often these opportunities are missed, or miscarried leaving performance improvement potential on the table.   Unless we can do magic, we need information about how we performed in the past in order to improve our performance in the future.

As I mentioned, there is little to no applied research in field of behavior analysis with regards to receiving feedback.  This article is intended to provide five (5) tips by authors of various professional lineage (see full reading list), as well as a call to action for those who are researchers or practitioners interested in this subject matter – let’s do some behavior analysis on this topic.

Tip 1: Ask for feedback. 

Sounds like a no brainer, but unless we purposefully reach out to receive feedback, most people don’t offer it freely unless they in turn have a motive.  As Jean-Francois-Manzoni (2016) says, “you can also share some preferences as to when the feedback would be most helpful.”  I make it a point to ask for feedback from my team members and colleagues at least quarterly to ensure I am doing what I need to do to be successful and in turn to make them successful.  It’s something I have to prioritize and make happen.

Tip 2: Practice active listening.

Maintaining good eye contact, keep your body language in check (don’t fold your arms or legs), and summarize what you heard, asking clarifying questions when needed (Kruse, 2014) – these are just some of the essentials of active listening.  Active listening can be the very difference between receiving the gift of feedback and dismissing it entirely because you simply weren’t attending to it.

Tip 3: Focus on the benefits of getting feedback.

Lindsay (2016) focuses our attending on remembering the benefits of getting feedback such as improving some skill, work product, or relationships, and to help meet expectations. These and countless other reasons are why we should be willing to receive feedback.  That said, many of us find ourselves defensive when someone offers feedback on our behavior.  Take the time to really focus on the benefits of getting feedback.

Tip 4: Evaluate it, slowly

Kruse (2014) explains that “just as you shouldn’t summarily reject feedback, you shouldn’t automatically accept it either.”  Evaluating the feedback can really help you decide which course of action to take – accept it, accept some of it, or reject it respectfully.

Tip 5: If you accept it, act on it.

The worst thing to do regarding receiving feedback is sit on it.  Doing nothing is actually doing something – it is sending a message to the person who provided you with the feedback that what they told you simply was that important to you.

Call to Action: Receive Feedback

If feedback is so important and critical to our performance at work, and life for that matter, we should be paying close attention to the behavior of receiving feedback as it’s own subject matter, and as it relates to giving feedback.  I have had my fair share of giving both positive and constructive feedback, and have dedicated time and attention to asking colleagues, mentors, friends, and clients alike to provide me with feedback.  It is not always a wonderful “gift” to receive or give, but it is important, and should be studied, practiced, and evaluated towards achieving great positive outcomes.

Thanks for reading, please provide me with your feedback on this article. ~ Manny 

Let us know about your experiences giving, or receiving, feedback in the comments below, and remember to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

For Your Reading Pleasure:

Alvero, A. M., Bucklin, B. R., & Austin, J. (2001).  An objective review of the effectiveness and essential characteristics of performance feedback in organizational settings.  Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 21(1), 3-29

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2012). Supervisor Training Curriculum Outline (2012). Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2014). Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Kruse, K/ (2014). How To Receive Feedback And Criticism. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Lindsay, N. (2016). Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Manzoni, J.F. (2016). To Get More Feedback, Act More Coachable. Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Other sources not included in the article, but worth the read

Chau, M. (2016). How to Receive Feedback Effectively. Blog. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Daniels and Bailey (2014). Performance Management: Changing Behavior that Drives Organizational Performance 5th Edition. Performance Management Publications. Atlanta, GA

Heathfield, S.M. (2016). Receive Feedback With Grace and Dignity. Updated October 17, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Skills You Need (2016). Giving and Receiving Feedback. Skills You Need. Retrieved November 16, 2016,

Stone, D. and Heen, S. (2014). Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Viking; 1 edition – March 4, 2014.


Manny Rodriguez, M.S.

Manny Rodriguez, M.S. has over ten years experience, working with organizations across the globe within the Fortune 1000. He is an accomplished practitioner in the field of Behavior Analysis, highly regarded by his customers and colleagues alike. Manny is especially skilled at facilitating business teams to execute strategic plans and preparing leaders to engage employees to reach their maximum potential. Manny holds the position of Director of Continuing Education and Product Development for ABA Technologies, a pioneer in online professional development of behavior analysts, and is also the President of the Organizational Behavior Management Network. You can contact him at [email protected].

Manny Rodriguez and ABA Technologies, Inc provides products and services for Behavior Analysts and the general public. Online Professional Development in ABA, Coaching/Mentoring Behavior Analysts, Speaking engagements such as Workshops/Seminars/Webinars, and Expert Consulting in ABA, OBM, Instructional Design and Teaching Behavior Analysis. For more information, contact [email protected].

1 Comment on "Feedback Hack: It’s not just about giving…receive."

  1. Manny, I love this article. Too often do I give and receive feedback that is never acted upon. I think it is important for us as supervisors to model the behavior we want our staff to engage in. This is something I will continue to work on and look into the remainder of your selected references.

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