How To Cope With Negative Feedback (And When To Take Offense)

Updated: Jul 1

No matter your job or profession or if you describe yourself as a perfectionist, we all have to hear negative feedback at some point in our lives. It can be easy to take personal offense and develop hurt feelings by what was said. Feedback (whether positive or negative) can help us strengthen our work performance and negative feedback in particular can be used as an invaluable asset if we apply what was said in a constructive way. This month's blog we will talk about how to cope with negative feedback and what we can do with it while simultaneously making sure we are heard and when to speak up.

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“If we take personal offense, then we are not really listening to the message.”

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How To Cope

Words can hurt. Even if the intention wasn’t meant to. It is important to know, however, that when it comes to negative feedback that it is almost always never personal. The constructive criticisms are targeted at the work, not the worker in the hopes to boost performance. With that, it is important to separate ourselves personally from it and look at the feedback objectively. When we show that we don’t take what was said as a personal attack it leaves room for open, free dialogue. It also shows that we value our work, take it seriously and have the maturity to know we are imperfect and also consider the opinions of our employers, coworkers, etc.

If we take personal offense, then we are not really listening to the message. In most circumstances, this is the case. One way we can test if we are listening is by looking for the validity in the negative feedback. Sometimes it takes another person to point out our unintentional mistakes.

Still, feedback is a waste if we do not show that we can accept it and apply it where needed. Through our performance, we can show to those around us that we appreciate their opinions which are evident through our actions. Even small gestures or adjustments can have a big impact on peoples perception of us. It shows we care.

Don't Stand For Disrespect

There is a fine line between helpful feedback and disrespect. If feedback was given in a thoughtless, careless way this we may need to make allowances. However, if our work is dismissed as unimportant, insulted or our personal character has been attacked we may decide to defend both our work and ourselves. It is important to set boundaries with our employers and coworkers. Personal attacks or undermining is hopefully a rare situation where we don’t need to become defensive.

Negative feedback should always be done in a respectful way. At times it’s necessary to call out unfair attacks. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t come off argumentative. This is not the reason for defending ourselves. It is to get to the root of the issue so either it can be improved upon or identify the claim as baseless.

Lastly, we should always be thankful for negative feedback as this presents an opportunity for us to improve. If we cultivate humility and recognize our faults we show that we see the importance of why it was given. Making us better and agreeable workers.

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