Receiving Feedback in Social Care

In social care, we are constantly learning. This comes in many varied forms: new policy or procedures, new training, personal reflection on practice, team meetings, reviewing accidents and incidents to see what could have been done differently, listening to the users of the service, etc.

One of the ways that we can learn and improve our practice is through feedback from supervisors and peers. This is not an easy task however, especially if the feedback is negative or critical. It may also be more difficult to accept if you have been in the role for some time and feel fully competent. Accepting and utilising feedback for our benefit is a skill that needs to be developed and honed. Some people develop and use this skill early in life, through school, personal pursuits or college, however, for others it can take a little longer, extending well into their professional career.

I have found that the skill of accepting and using feedback has developed as I have matured and gained experience in different roles. Early in my career, my instincts were to reject the feedback, instead coming up with reasons as to why the feedback giver was wrong, that I was misunderstood or that they were being petty because… (insert reason here!). On reflection, my poor acceptance of negative or critical feedback could be due to my relative success academically and with personal pursuits – I rarely had to deal with negative feedback until I was in the working world. However, with good professional supervision and plenty of introspection, I’m happy to say that I can now use feedback to my advantage.

Here are a few tips to make the most from feedback:

1. Use active listening with the other person until they are finished.
Listen without interrupting. Eliminate distractions. Watch their body language.

2. Remain calm, ensure your body language and tone does not become defensive.
Breathe deeply, do not allow your emotions to take over, be aware of your red flags (terms that may upset or trigger an emotional response). Be aware of your own body language, tone of voice, language. 

3. Summarise or reflect back what they have said for full understanding.
Try to clarify the main points of what they have said, good and bad. You may need to find out their expectations at this point.

4. Seek or give clarity if necessary.
You may not have all of the information at this point, ask questions. If you feel that the other person does not have all the information they need, clarify for them.

5. Take some time to reflect on the feedback and think about what needs to happen next.
Think over and digest the feedback. You may need to disassociate what was said from emotions. You may want to talk it over with a confidante or peer supporter. You might decide to do nothing with the feedback or you may decide to put a plan in place to help you develop in your role.

It can be difficult to give feedback also, especially if you are unsure how the person receiving the feedback will react. Remember to thank the person giving feedback for their 

Seeking further feedback once you have acted on the plan will ensure you are on the right track.