Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Handling Negative Feedback

Use it to improve!

“I’d like to give you a compliment.”

Wow, those are like magic words—we can’t wait to hear what they are going to say next. We know that we are about to feel good, happy, motivated and inspired.

But what about criticism?

We say that we want feedback, even if it is negative. But we’re a little scared to receive it, and if we let it, it can lead to discouragement.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Negative feedback can actually be beneficial for learning and motivation IF IT IS GIVEN with information on how to improve in the future. That is what is meant by constructive criticism, which is never meant to make a person feel down. Instead, it is meant to lift them up. Constructive criticism makes us even better.

But here’s a reality check. Sometimes, we tend to react negatively to ALL negative feedback!

Harvard Business Review lists down some ways how we justify, rationalize, or ignore negative feedback. We say things like:

  • “It’s not such a big deal!” (minimizing)
  • “I don’t do that!” (denial)
  • “I may have done that, but you did this!” (attacking)
  • “That’s not the real issue here.” (deflection)

As a leader, here’s how you should handle receiving negative feedback:

  1. DON’T overreact! Breathe in, breathe out. Stay calm.
  2. Remind yourself that negative feedback has its benefits.
  3. Listen, and don’t interrupt. STOP trying to think of comebacks. Just attempt to listen well and understand what the person is saying.
  4. Say thank you! I’m serious. Most people don’t like giving negative feedback, so appreciate the fact that the person cared enough to let you know.
  5. Ask humble questions. Seek suggestions on how you can avoid the mistake in the future.

We all have room for improvement. The next time you receive negative feedback… that might be just what you needed to hear to become an even better leader.

 “If you’re not open to constructive criticism, then you’re not open to truly growing as a person.” ~ Stephan Speaks


Dr. Rob

PS. In the past week I received the most brutal and FUNNY constructive criticism that I’ve received in my entire life. If you’d like a short email with the funny story, drop me a quick note with the subject "Funny criticism" to

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