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What to do when you receive negative feedback

We’ve all received negative feedback before, either from a friend, family member, lecturer or employer. Negative feedback can be very tough to deal with, especially if you’re not equipped with the skills to handle it. Additionally, it’s much more encouraging to receive compliments than negative criticism because the latter indicates we’re doing something wrong.

Here are 6 ways in which you can deal with negative feedback…

  1. Pause! Don’t react!

When receiving negative feedback, the first instinct will be to defend yourself and point out everything you have done thus far that appears to be right. However, no matter how negative the comment was, you have a choice on how to react. If you react in a defensive manner, it is telling more about you as a person. Remaining calm and composed helps you deal with feedback better. If you find yourself getting riled up, give yourself some time to cool down before responding.

  1. Understand what the person is trying to say

Feedback, whether it’s negative or positive comes from somewhere. Something you said or did made the person react this way. You may choose to ignore the feedback but you’ll never know what really triggered the person to react this way which means there’s a possibility of this recurring in the future. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to understand where he/she is coming from:

  • What is he/she concerned about? What are the key issues?
  • Why is he/she reacting this way?
  • What did you do/say that triggered him/her?

Often, the person providing the feedback may not point out the actual issues or areas of concern and may give you a general overview by saying “I don’ think this was done well” without any supporting reasons. The onus is on you to probe a bit further and discover what these reasons are – calmly, of course!

  1. Assess if the feedback is true

Evaluate the feedback objectively. Do you agree with it? Is there any truth behind it and could this be something you missed out initially?  In certain situations, it’s difficult to maintain an objective stance and looking at it from someone else’s perspective. Once you receive feedback, you can always ask friends or family to help give you an alternate perspective before discussing it with the person who gave you the feedback. Having alternative views can help maintain objectivity.

  1. A kind reply

In this day and age, kindness is everything. Since the person took their time to share their feedback (even though it’s negative), you should take your time to give a proper reply by reiterating his/her concerns and confirm that you both are on the same page, let him/her know your point of view, whether you agree/disagree along with supporting reasons as to why, create an open space for discussion and align/agree on the conclusions/next step to move forward. There will be times where there may never be an agreement but it all comes down to your response. A kind response will be much better for you, than a nasty one.

  1. Recognise negative feedback as a positive thing

Looking at negative feedback as a positive shows that there are people who want you to become a better person. If the person didn’t care at all, he/she wouldn’t have even provided you with feedback. Negative feedback also gives us opportunities for growth. No matter where we are in life, all of us will have blind spots we don’t know about and these blind spots often prevent us from reaching the next stage of growth. Negative feedback may not be pleasant to receive but it sure does give us a different perspective to consider and use the next time we need to get something done.

  1. Learn from the feedback

There is always something that can be learned from everything you do. Ask yourself;

  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What have you learned about others?
  • How can you improve?

You can either learn about the feedback, how you dealt with it or both.

We hope these tips will be helpful the next time you receive negative feedback. It may not be easy to handle but if you learn the art of dealing with it, it’ll go a long way in personal growth.

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2 responses on this

  1. Andrew Falatsi Khomo June 29, 2020 11:53 am

    “NO,” only implies, “Next Opportunity.”

    1. Voices Unite June 29, 2020 12:50 pm

      Great way to look at it!


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