Dealing With Negative Feedback In The Workplace

by Kylee Stone Mar 5,2016

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Negative feedback is the worst.

No really, it is the worst in that it can destroy your confidence, fill you with doubt and make you feel like a talentless hack.

And then there is the fact that if the feedback wasn’t delivered properly, your ego could also take a beating.

But here’s the thing about negative feedback. The way you receive the feedback plays a big role in whether the other person thinks the feedback given was justified.

Dealing with negative feedback in the workplace is not easy. But here are a few tips that will help you swallow what is a mostly bitter pill.

Prepare Ahead

When you know a feedback session is coming, it’s best to prepare yourself. Regardless of whether its going to be negative or positive, it’s always good to be prepared. Most managers will inform you if there’s a feedback session upcoming. Nobody wants to blindside the person whose on the receiving end of feedback.

Silence is Golden

When we’re listening to a list of our faults, our first idea is to vehemently and strenuously defend ourselves. But that’s not going to help your case at all. In fact, it just might make things worse. Instead, keep quiet and listen. This listening is going to take a lot of effort and it might feel like you are swallowing your pride. But it’s a move that’s going to make you look like mature and professional as opposed to defensive and angry. When you listen to criticism quietly and gracefully, it gives the other person time to temper their opinion of you. 

Take Note of Who’s Giving The Feedback

When receiving feedback, one thing you’ve got to take stock of is the person who’s giving the feedback. Is it a person you’ve always had a good rapport with? Is it someone who has a reputation for being harsh? Is it someone who is not directly involved with your work? For example, if the person giving negative feedback is your direct superior who you have always been on excellent terms with, then you need to step back and examine your actions and listen to what they are saying. On the other hand, if the person giving negative feedback is someone who’s not directly involved with your work, you could take it in your stride, while still being respectful about it.

Apologize Sincerely

Once a person is done giving you negative feedback, first things first apologize sincerely. It reflects poorly on you when you don’t apologize at all or you apologize too much.

Don’t Take 2 + 2 and Make It 100

Just you are not supposed to brush off any and all feedback that you receive, you are not supposed to blow the feedback you receive out of proportion. This especially goes for negative feedback.

You Are Not The Feedback You Receive

This is probably the hardest part to swallow but it bears repeating time and time again that negative feedback you receive is not a scathing indictment of you. Everybody makes mistakes and some of us might make bigger mistakes than the others. Those mistakes do not define our entire careers. Know that you will make colossal mistakes at some point in your life, and you will be raked over hot coals for it. But there will be good times too.

 There will come a point in your life when you too will be handing out negative feedback. If you are interested in doing that in a way where the person receiving the feedback is not freaking out, then look out for the next article in this feedback series!

Engagedly’s feedback feature is extremely easy to use. To see it in action, request a demo!

Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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