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Handling negative feedback at work

Receiving criticism about your work is never easy, but it can get easier to swallow and digest if you know how to respond to it – and if you don’t view it as your boss scolding you. Unless you are living in a holed-up world where you don’t have to interact with anyone, receiving negative feedback is part of our everyday life. If you can learn to handle negative feedback effectively, it can be crucial skill that will help in your journey of growth. Here’s how to handle negative feedback that you’re bound to hear at some point during the course of your career.

Listen carefully

When receiving negative feedback, it’s natural to want to defend yourself immediately. Not interrupting and listening carefully is the right thing to do. You want to understand what exactly the criticism is before you react to it. Remaining calm and composed helps you deal with the feedback better. If you feel riled up, give yourself some time to cool down first before engaging further.

Try to not get defensive

It’s in our nature to listen defensively. As the other individual is giving us a dose of negative feedback, we tend to listen not to understand what’s being said, but to spot distortions or inaccuracies or faulty conclusions. But even if the negative feedback we’re getting is demonstrably inaccurate, it’s not in your best interest to immediately try to prove it. Asking questions helps eliminate the appearance of defensiveness and keeps you from immediately jumping in to justify your actions. Questions can help the other individual communicate clearly whatever their core message may be. Asking for examples may help you gain useful insights that are buried in the unconstructive message.

Understand the persons concerns

Every feedback, whether negative or positive, comes from somewhere. You can choose to ignore the feedback, but then you’ll never know what was it that triggered the person. This means there’s a possibility of this issue recurring in the future. Sometimes, the person giving the feedback may not be aware of the real areas of concern. They might just be saying ‘I don’t like how you’re doing this’ without supporting reasons. This doesn’t mean you should dismiss the feedback, because something did trigger it. It’s up to you to probe the person and discover what the actual reasons are.

Assess if the feedback is true

Sometimes it’s hard to maintain an objective stance. It’s helpful to seek out friends to get alternate opinions. You can ask them about their overall assessment of the feedback, what they think are the areas of concern, and if they see any truth behind it. As your friends, they will be more than willing to listen and help evaluate, and each of them will have their own unique perspective to add to the plate. Having alternative viewpoints helps to maintain objectivity.

Learn from the feedback

There’s always something to learn from the feedback. Your learning can either be about the feedback, how you dealt with it, or both. Whenever you get a negative feedback, always process it and think about what you can learn from it. You could ignore it, but then that means nothing came out of the experience.

Remember negative feedback isn’t a bad thing; it shows that there are people who want you to become better. Negative feedback tells us our opportunities for personal and career growth. No matter where we are in life, all of us will have blind spots we don’t know about. These blind spots prevent us from reaching the next stage of growth. While negative feedback may not be pleasant to receive, they give us a different perspective to consider. By learning from more different perspectives, we can grow much faster.

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