Consulting 6.4 Evaluations: Responding to feedback

This lesson will help you respond politely and naturally to feedback you receive, especially focusing on negative feedback. 


Nobody comes into a consulting firm perfect. If you were, you’d be promoted to partner on your first day! We all have things to learn. The ability to be coachable and show grit is a major key to success in any field.

Warm Up: 

Examine each of these pieces of feedback. What are some possible ways you would respond?

  1. Hey, I think you missed a bit on this spreadsheet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the data on the client overhead costs should include 2007, shouldn't it?
  2. Do you have a minute? I'd like to talk about your analysis of the overhead costs. Did you think about the hypothesis and start with the biggest cost pool first? You need to start with the biggest wins. 

A. When receiving feedback, the first step is always to thank the person giving it or to show understanding. Examine the following phrases and discuss the level of formality. Who would you say them to? 

  1. That's fair.
  2. I hear you.
  3. I'm so glad you noticed!
  4. Thank you for noticing that. 
  5. Oh I see what you mean.
  6. Oh my god, you're totally right!   

Now practice responding to your teacher's feedback.

B. Depending on the feedback, you can also create a plan of attack so that you will succeed the next time you get the chance. 

C. If you don't fully understand the issue and you need more detail, an appropriate response would be:

  1. Would you mind clarifying what you mean?
  2. Could you tell me more? I'd really appreciate a specific instance of that.
  3. I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow you. Would you mind taking me through that?

D. If you understand the issue, but not the solution, you can say:

  1. I see... and instead of doing that, what should I have done instead?
  2. Ok, that makes sense. Could you tell me what approach you would have taken?
  3. Ok, would you be able to tell me what I need to do differently?

Examine these cases and think about how you would respond: 

  1. Situation: You've stayed up until the middle of the night preparing a PowerPoint deck for tomorrow's presentation.
    Feedback: "Please be careful about typos. The CEO's name has an E at the end."
  2. Situation: You made a work plan including the dates of interviews and the roles of each person, but didn't take into consideration the holidays of the US members. 
    Feedback: "Did you see an email that the American colleague sent?"
  3. Situation: You have been working on price optimization for a new luxury skin cream. Your team is working on penetrating the market with a fairly high price based on survey data. 
    Feedback: "You can't just rely on the survey feedback and benchmarking. Those numbers don't tell the whole story."