Mentees: Best Practices for Receiving Feedback

What do I do while I am receiving feedback?

  • Listen while your mentor is giving feedback, and wait until he or she is finished before you respond.
  • Make sure you understand the feedback. It’s useful to paraphrase the feedback to your mentor to ensure that you captured the intended meaning. Ask the mentor to clarify or to be more specific if he or she has not been. Ask for strategies to resolve the issues and work together to develop solutions.
  • Try not to be defensive. Your mentor is trying to help you succeed. If you’re feeling defensive, it might be a good idea to ask if you can make an appointment to discuss the feedback later, after you’ve had time to consider it. You don’t want to continue the conversation while you are upset. It’s best to have a cooling down period. You also don’t want to ask your mentor to defend the feedback, since feedback generally involves subjective perceptions and opinions.
  • Finally, whether you agree with the feedback or not, thank your mentor for his or her time and for being helpful to you.

What if I get feedback that I don’t agree with?

  • Step back a bit. It’s useful to consider the feedback calmly and to think about it in the overall context of moving forward in your career. An important element of receiving feedback is evaluating it, but evaluate it without emotion.
  • Ask a trusted peer for his or her point of view or to talk with another mentor.
  • While your mentor has more experience and expertise than you have, the decision about whether or not to use the feedback is ultimately your own. If you decide not to use the feedback, let your mentor know and tell her or him your reasons. Your mentoring relationship is long-term, and you don’t want to jeopardize it by alienating your mentor.
  • Your mentor may want to give you additional feedback. Listen to it and think about it before you finalize your decision. And if you decide not to use the feedback at this time, keep the feedback in mind, since it may make more sense to you down the road.

    This section adapted with permission from the Institute for Clinical Research Education Mentoring Resources, University of Pittsburgh www.icre.pitt.edu/mentoring/overview.html

To further develop your communication skills, read more about resolving conflict and active listening.