Feedback is important as it can help you to continually develop your technical, commercial and interpersonal skills. For this reason, you should ask for feedback on an on-going basis and be prepared to listen to it. This can also reduce the risk of you being blindsided in an appraisal. Think about what you’ve been told and then act upon it. Even if you think you are doing well, feedback can help you to understand how your supervisor likes things to be done. Your current methods may not be “wrong”, but you could create a better impression by understanding, for instance, your supervisor’s formatting/structuring preferences for documents, the way they like things to be printed/presented, or the length and detail they prefer for research assignments.
You should be grateful that those providing you with feedback are giving up their (usually valuable) time to help to develop/train you and remember, you are all on the same team after all. Be receptive, not defensive. Be responsive, resilient and adaptable. Be open to feedback and listen objectively. Asking questions can help to show your feedbacker that you are listening intently and taking the feedback on board, which can reflect well on your character.
When receiving feedback, take notes, ask questions and reflect. Where you have received negative feedback, ask how you could/should have done things differently and how you should aim to change in the future. Subsequently, make a real effort to demonstrate that you have taken on board your feedback by making the necessary adjustments to improve. This could lead to exceptionally good feedback, as the ability to improve on weaknesses is essential for commercial lawyers.
In contrast, do not take negative feedback personally or answer back, although explaining why you did something can be ok, so long as you do not act defensively or blame others.
If your supervisor amends your work, consider asking them to explain to you why your approach was incorrect (unless it is obvious). How else will you know how to avoid the same mistakes next time? Ask for direction, for instance, on how can you improve your technical skills and research abilities. In addition, when you receive positive feedback, ask how you can further improve (even if you don’t really care) – this could show your desire to truly excel!