It is natural to get defensive when receiving negative feedback. After all, negative feedback is painful, and we are biologically wired to avoid pain. We play the victim, sink into denial, or blame our circumstances — but these behaviors let our egos get in the way of valuable learning. Here’s a better way to respond, no matter what the feedback is or who’s giving it: “I appreciate you taking the time and the effort to tell me. Thank you.” You are thanking them for their time, not the feedback, especially if you disagree with it.
This response may seem simple (and it is), but it shows people you’re open to hearing what they have to say. As a result, they will be far more likely to speak directly to you when they have an issue, as opposed to going to your manager behind your back. That means you’ll have the chance to respond and improve the situation before it gets any worse. An added benefit is that this response dramatically increases your ability to listen. When you stop defending against feedback externally, you stop defending against it internally, too.