Receiving Constructive Feedback Gracefully

We’ve all been there…your boss schedules an evaluation for you and your heart starts to race as you question what they might say. Part of being in the workforce is receiving feedback on how you are performing. Although it is meant to provide you with insight on what you are doing right and what you can improve upon so you can be the best at your position, it’s not always easy to hear! This feedback is given so that you can evaluate what you are doing well and what you can improve upon so that you can perform your very best. Sometimes, being told what skills you lack in or which areas you are underperforming in can feel awkward, discouraging, and hurtful. However, that’s not the intent of being provided with feedback. Instead, if you learn how to accept constructive criticism gracefully and use it to your advantage now, you will be prepared to excel in the future.

The first step is to recognize that nobody is perfect, and you are guaranteed to have evaluations in your future, whether scheduled or impromptu.

Once you acknowledge this, then you can start to change the way you view the exchange. It can be helpful to look at it this way: Your employer cares enough about you to be honest with you and help you improve for the future. This is not against you, it is for you to help you find success in your career and to build upon skills that will be applicable no matter what future career you may hold. If you put this into perspective, you’ll be much more likely to not only feel grateful for the advice, but you will also be inspired to improve. 

Beyond ensuring your attitude is positive for your own wellbeing, it is important that you exemplify this positive attitude to your employers rather than getting defensive or making excuses. Further, it goes a long way to let your employers know how you appreciate the feedback and how you are committed to making an improvement for the benefit of the company, the team, and yourself. Your attitude alone can show your employer how committed you are to being the best asset to the organization that you can be. This is important not only for the success of the company but also for your future, as your current employer will likely be contacted by potential employers when you apply to other jobs in the future to provide insight on your performance and character. All employers want someone who is teachable, so by responding gracefully, not only can you personally improve, but you can also demonstrate qualities that all employers seek.

After receiving constructive criticism or feedback, it is important to not only listen but to take action based on the information you are given. Make sure to ask questions to your employer on what you can do to improve your performance. Ask your employers about your strengths: What strengths do you have and how can you use these strengths to improve upon aspects of your work performance you need to better develop? You can take it a step further to demonstrate to your boss that you are committed to improvement and ask to schedule a “progress report” meeting to see how your improvement efforts are going a few weeks after you receive your initial feedback.

Learning how to receive constructive criticism is a vital skill in the workforce and will continually help you advance in your career. Showing employers that you not only know how to take feedback but also apply it will set you apart from other employees and can increase your chances of getting promotions, raises, and glowing recommendations.


-Jordan Mercer, Peer Career Advisor

Alumni Highlight: Katlyn Chandler ’18

Alumna Katlyn Chandler (’18) is all about service – helping others and meeting them where they are. Luckily for her, she has found a way to blend her desire to help others with her passion for nutrition.

When Katlyn was in high school, she constantly felt sluggish and made the decision to change her daily habits by eating right and exercising. This decision changed her life, and in turn, she knew she wanted to help others make healthy decisions as well. Although she entered CofC as a biology major, she quickly found out that public health incorporated all her interests: Preventative health, community health, and nutrition. After switching her major, Katlyn’s career launched.

Throughout her time at CofC, Katlyn dived into various volunteer and internship experiences in the Charleston community that took her out of her comfort zone, teaching her how to better serve people who are different than her.

“Going out into the community and getting to know people through volunteering is a great way to get you out of your shell and see people at eye level. Sometimes we think we can solve a large issue, but you don’t know what a community needs until you are working directly with them.”

For Katlyn, this looked like interning with the Ryan White Wellness Center that served the Eastside community by caring for their health needs. Through this internship, Katlyn was able to find ways for clients to receive nutritional supplemental drinks with a local vendor, file health insurance information, and shadow physicians. She also served with the Lowcountry Herald where she helped supply food and clothing for the homeless. Through each of her experiences during college, she gained a deeper understanding of how to use her studies to serve others well.

Upon graduation, Katlyn decided to go directly into the workforce. As she searched for jobs, she initially looked past an opportunity with the Lowcountry Food Bank because she saw the phrase public speaking in the job title and was nervous about performing this task. Despite being nervous about the public speaking aspect, she reconsidered and decided to apply so she could learn more about what this position truly entailed. After interviewing, she felt more confident about pursuing this role, and she began serving as an AmeriCorps for the Lowcountry Food Bank as the Program Coordinator of “Cooking Matters.” This program helps low-income families shop and eat healthier on a budget. In partnership with other organizations, she hosted 6-week classes to teach how to prepare food and provide nutrition lessons. It turns out that the very aspect that made her initially hesitant to apply – public speaking – is now something she loves to do! She fell in love with her career, and after completing her year term in this role, she landed a position as a Nutrition Education Specialist for the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC).

Katlyn currently serves low-income communities in this role within the Women, Infants, and Children department. She loves that she gets to work with different types of people such as children from 0-5 years of age, prenatal moms, and post-partum women by discussing breastfeeding, promoting physical activity, and providing healthy recipes for picky eaters. Additionally, she provides nutrition health assessments and offers food benefits, but tailored in a way that is most optimal for their health.

“My favorite part is talking to a client who is really open to nutrition education and having them learn something they never knew before. I love seeing the lightbulb go off in their heads. Many people think everything has to change for nutrition, but you can actually make small changes to become healthier.”

Alumna Katlyn Chandler has successfully used her passion for nutrition to serve the Charleston community.


-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor