Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Responding to Feedback on the Job

Tips for Responding to Feedback from Your Supervisor

From time to time, your employer will want to give you feedback on your progress and performance at work. Generally, you’ll get a “Great job!” But occasionally, your supervisor will let you know something didn’t go well. You may instinctively become defensive, feeling like you’re being blamed. Stop! Negative feedback can be a valuable opportunity to learn how to do things better next time. Here’s how to respond and benefit from it.

Listen to your employer’s feedback.

Pay attention to the content, not the tone.What’s the problem? What part did you play in it? Summarize what you hear your supervisor saying to show that you understand what’s being said, even if you don’t agree with it. For example: “You wanted me to contact John by the end of the day yesterday to make sure he could come to tomorrow’s meeting, and since I didn’t contact him until this morning, he no longer had room in his schedule and won’t be able to make the meeting.”

Acknowledge whatever part of the situation you’re responsible for.

This doesn’t mean taking on all the blame! But if an important phone call wasn’t made, and it was your job to make it, take responsibility for letting it slip through the cracks. For example, you could say, “You’re absolutely right; I should have let you know that I wasn’t going to be able to call John until this morning.”


Offer your own perspective on the situation:

  • Give an overall evaluation of your performance. If you disagree with your supervisor’s point of view, try expressing it by saying, “While you think I did ______, I feel I did __________.”
  • Mention at least two things you did well.
  • Describe at least one thing you could have done better.
  • Discuss what you might do to prevent the problem from happening again.


Ask what else you might do to improve your performance.

Listen and summarize what your supervisor says to show that you understand. Take notes if you need help remembering the conversation.

NOTE: The information contained in these pages is for educational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Individuals should contact the appropriate legal resources for specific legal advice regarding their particular situations.