4 Stages of Receiving Feedback: The Emotional Rollercoaster!


by Kevin Watson



Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, it’s useful to bear in mind the following stages of the emotional rollercoaster people can go on.

Let’s face it, people suck at giving feedback so it’s important to be aware of the emotional responses feedback can illicit.

Not many of us like receiving feedback, although we do recognise the value it can bring.

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.Elon Musk

To help get the best from feedback, let’s take a look at the 4 stages we can all go through when receiving feedback.


When you’re receiving feedback, you may try to deny it.

Avoid immediate defensiveness – arguing, denying and justifying.

This just gets in the way of appreciating the intention behind the feedback and how useful it may be.


After the denial stage comes anger!

So you’ve been told that your work is not as good as it should be.

You’ve denied it by saying “It’s as good as always”, and then you become angry as it continues to stew in your mind and body.

Your immediate reaction is to fume!


After the anger has calmed down, you will have had time to reflect and ponder on the feedback.

“Well, I may have been making more mistakes than normal”.

This is when you take time out to mull over the feedback and think about what it actually means.


The final stage is accepting the feedback, recognising its value and the consequences of acting upon it or ignoring it.

“I HAVE been making mistakes”.

If you reject feedback, you also reject the choice of acting in a way that may bring you abundant success.John Mattone

Call to Action

Be aware of your emotional rollercoaster next time you’re receiving feedback.

Consciously move rapidly through stages 1 and 2, heading straight to stage 3 where you can let the feedback sink in before accepting it in the spirit it was given.

Oh, and be aware of other people’s emotional rollercoaster when you’re giving them feedback, too!


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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.



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