What should you do when your employees ignore your feedback?

Giving constructive feedback is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of being a leader. But what happens when the employee receiving the feedback shuts down, reacts negatively or doesn't follow through on promises?

Deborah Grayson Riegel, a principal at the leadership development firm the Boda Group, suggests leaders should talk to employees who don't receive feedback well.

"It should be its own topic of conversation, addressed when you have enough evidence to assume a pattern and when both you and your colleague have adequate time and energy to tackle it," Ms. Riegel wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

Here are seven tips for how to discuss receiving feedback with employees, according to Ms. Riegel.

1. Refer to his or her job description. While it's part of your job to give feedback, it's also part of your employee's job to professionally receive your feedback. Talk to the employee about how his or her negative reaction is affecting the team and the organization.

2. Acknowledge opinions. Be aware that the employee may not see his or her reaction in the same light you do. Express your opinion, but allow the feedback-receiver the opportunity to share his or her insights as well.

3. Refrain from negative language. By remaining neutral in your tone and choice of words, you're viewed as more open and ready to listen. Avoid using words that could make the person receiving the feedback defensive. Instead, hold back your judgment or interpretation of his or her actions and ask them to talk about the situation.

4. Request feedback for yourself. "Be brave enough to ask, 'How am I contributing to this problem?' and then model how to receive the feedback," wrote Ms. Riegel. Your communication style may be what's inhibiting your employee from thoughtfully receiving feedback.

5. Tell a personal story. Share a narrative about a time you received feedback and had a difficult time handling it. By telling the employee about what you learned and how you've changed from the experience, you'll seem more relatable.

6. Set a timeline. "Make a specific request for a behavior change, be open to counter-offers and come to an agreement on the goal," wrote Ms. Riegel. Be sure to outline a plan together. If you secure a commitment from the employee, you'll have something to return to the next time you have to give feedback.

7. Recognize positive change. Continually search for evidence that your employee has followed through on changes to be made. Praise the employee when he or she fulfills these promises.

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