7 Effective Ways to Handle Feedback and Criticism From Your Mentor

In this article, we will be sharing our top 7 strategies you can use to effectively handle criticism and feedback from your mentor to make the most out of this learning opportunity.

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Receiving feedback and criticism, especially from your mentor, doesn’t always come easy. However, it plays an important role in your overall personal and professional growth. As a mentee, the guidance provided by your mentor helps you gain insights and better progress towards your goals. This valuable opportunity allows you to enhance your performance and highlight areas of improvement, but first, you need to understand how to effectively handle feedback and criticism from your mentor to truly reap the rewards.

In this article, we will be sharing our top 7 strategies you can use to effectively handle criticism and feedback from your mentor to make the most out of this learning opportunity.

1. Be Open and Curious

If you want to benefit from criticism and feedback from your mentor and handle it well, the first step is to make sure that you're open to it and curious about what they have to say. Being open to the ideas of others isn’t something we’re always good at but actively listening to what is being said, taking the time to take in the information goes a long way. We often jump to the conclusion that criticism or feedback is often an attack and that the person is out to get us. When your mentor gives you feedback, you need to view it as a good opportunity to learn and assume they have your best intentions in mind. When you have an attitude of openness, you're able to embrace the experience and learn important lessons from the feedback provided to you.

2. Set Expectations From the Start

Before you even start your mentoring sessions or seek career direction from a mentor, you need to make sure that you set precise and specific expectations from the very start. To handle criticism effectively, you need to be given constructive feedback in the first place. For your mentor to give you good feedback, then having clear expectations gives you both a better understanding of the type of feedback you’re looking for, what you want to achieve but also how you want to receive it. By communicating things such as goals and needs with your mentor, your expectations can be aligned.

3. Don’t Take It Personally

It’s easier said than done, not to take feedback personally. When you open up to your mentor about personal things in your life, you might feel that this makes you more vulnerable. Criticism has been known to trigger emotional reactions, whether that be defensiveness or just wounded feelings, but you must separate your emotions from the scenario. When someone offers you feedback, it’s not aimed at your character, but instead your work. When you remain objective, you’re able to identify areas of improvement to help you go further in your professional journey.

4. Actively Listen

When you receive feedback from anyone in your life, including your mentor, you need to practice active listening. Your mentor is taking time out of their day, to help you develop, learn and grow. When your mentor is talking, give them your full attention, don’t talk over them and prepare your response mentally. When you actively listen to what they have to say, then you’re showing them that you not only appreciate their opinion but have a genuine desire to develop both personally and professionally.

5. Seek Clarification and Ask Questions

No matter how hard we try to listen to people, sometimes things can be unclear. If you receive feedback or criticism from your mentor, then don’t hesitate to seek clarification if aspects seem unclear or if you just want to double-check. If you want to improve then you need to have a good understanding of their recommendations and expectations to see growth. Make sure to ask questions and show that you're committed to your goals, value their expertise and are fully engaged with the mentoring relationship. Asking questions also allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the feedback and criticism provided.

6. Reflect, Take Action and Follow-Up

When your mentor provides you with advice, feedback or criticism, then you need to make sure you take the time to understand what was said, how you feel about it and how you plan to go forward. Remember, when you respond to your mentor, you need to do so respectfully and constructively. Based on the feedback from your mentor, you need to plan how you want to use the feedback going forward, by setting goals and tracking your process. You should also regularly provide your mentor with updates on the actions and steps you're taking to use the feedback and criticism given, asking for more feedback or support if needed.

7. Show Appreciation and Say Thank You

One of the most difficult parts of the process, but one that is essential if you want to build a long-lasting relationship, is showing your appreciation and saying thank you to your mentor. Mentoring is a two-way street, it’s a relationship between yourself and your mentor that is built on trust and mutual respect. Saying thank you to your mentor shows you value their time and opinions and whilst you might not always agree with everything they said, it shows you appreciate the effort they’ve made. Be open to also providing feedback to your mentor when appropriate, as this can enhance the relationship and further support the development and growth of both you and your mentor.

Final Thoughts

Good feedback is priceless. Being able to handle both feedback and criticism from your mentor is a valuable skill to have, helping boost your personal and professional growth whilst helping you develop a better relationship with your mentor. By being open, setting expectations, not taking it personally, actively listening, seeking clarification, reflecting and showing appreciation, you can make the most out of the insights provided to you. Your mentor is there to support you on your journey and their feedback is a great opportunity for growth, so make the most of it!

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