At some point in our careers, we all receive feedback on our performance—some positive and some others, negative. Being told that you’ve failed to meet expectations or that you’ve done something wrong at work can be a serious blow to the ego–especially if you’re used to the boss singing your praises.
During those time, it’s normal to either get defensive, upset or shut down.
But negative feedback shouldn’t put you down, it’s an inevitable part of life in and you shouldn’t try to avoid it. Because, as it turns out, it could be your key to success. And while it doesn’t have the ability to stall your career, an unwillingness to absorb and act on it does.
The next time you get a negative feedback from your boss, here are ways you should handle it and turn it into something positive:
Don’t get defensive
During a feedback conversation, chances are you’re feeling somewhere between mildly to extremely defensive. This is a totally natural reaction, but it can also come off as immature, so it’s best to try to control it as much as possible.
Try to avoid accusatory or subjective language like “it’s not fair” or “that’s not true,” and instead, focus on making “I” statements that show you take responsibility for your actions and their outcomes.
Understand your boss’ concern
Ever feedback, whether negative or positive, comes from somewhere.m Something you said or did made your boss react the way he/she did. You can choose to ignore the feedback, but then you’ll never know what was it that triggered the reaction. Meaning, there’s every possibility of the issue recurring in the future.
Listen actively and understand where he/she is coming from. Some questions to ask yourself include – What is he/she concerned about? What are the key issues? Why is he/she reacting this way? This will help you evaluate the concerns and where you need to make adjustments.
After you’ve had the opportunity to clear your head, go back and think about the main points your boss conveyed. Do they pretty much make sense, or is there anything that came totally off? If so, can you go back and revisit the surprising feedback with your boss in order to get a better understanding of what you need to work on
It’s never a bad idea to circle back with him or her after a few days or weeks and say something like, “Based on my evaluation, here are the three major points I understand I need to improve on. There is one point you mentioned that concerns me a bit, and here’s why.” You boss will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to analyze it and that you are crystal clear on the steps you should take to improve in the future. In the end, you’ll realise that you’ve learnt from the experience.
Don’t dwell on it
If the negative feedback caught you by surprise, and pointed to a flaw that makes you self-conscious, chances are you’re going to feel bad about it. That’s totally normal. But while you should allow yourself a period of time to work through the feelings it stirs up, you should also commit to letting them go.
Try to remember that you are not your job, and your boss’ assessment of your professional performance does not correlate to your value as a human being. Listen to music, go out with friends, exercise—whatever you need to do to feel better without leaving yourself worse off in the long run.
Recognise it as a positive thing
Learn to see negative feedback as positive, because it shows there are people who want you to become better. Critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care. If the person didn’t care at all, he/she wouldn’t even have provided the feedback, would he/she?
Negative feedback also tells you your opportunities for 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 a different perspective to consider. By learning from more different perspectives, you can grow much faster.