Guest Post by Kyle O’Brien
Show me an employee who’s never had to deal with negative feedback at work, and I’ll show you a unicorn. No one’s perfect. No one coasts through work without ever hearing one bad comment directed at their work, their idea on a project, etc. Critiques are a part of the business fabric. Some deal with criticism very well; others…not so much. And if you find yourself in the latter group, you must change your ways for both the sake of your company’s productivity and for whatever hopes you have of advancing up the career ladder.
How to Deal with Negative Feedback in a Clean and Professional Manner
Listening Is An Art Form
When your idea gets deconstructed in a meeting, you start to feel the world’s going to collapse and therefore do everything in your power to put your idea front and center again. All the while, you’re not listening. I’ve been guilty of it countless times. I ignore someone’s critique and just think only about what I’m going to say. Never mind that he or she’s point may have some validity – my comment’s going to shake things up. But it never does.
Constructive criticism between two people needs four ears, not two.
Scale Back Your Emotions
Being passionate in your work is an endearing quality in the eyes of your boss. But what isn’t so very endearing is getting overly passionate in your defense against negative feedback. If you have the “I’ll show you!” approach any time criticism surfaces, it starts to paint you in an unprofessional light. If you feel you have a point to make, you can still be direct about it. Just do it in a calmer tone.
Don’t Always Assume Everyone’s Out to Get You
Okay, so you dropped the ball on a project. A performance review looms next week. You start to panic so much and may accidentally let your imagination get the best of you. Conspiracy theories start to set in on why you aren’t entirely to blame, that it was another co-worker’s undoing that led to your poor marks.
Don’t play the blame game when sitting down in front of your boss. It’ll only cause more riffs throughout the office and will dampen the spirit behind your company culture because you’re laying down a roadmap of distrust. If you have to discuss someone’s apparent blunder, talk to that person face-to-face and be done with it.
Take It For What It Is
Think of all criticism as little words of encouragement instead of a calculated slight against your entire work. Put pride to the side for the time being and understand everyone in that office is working to help the business flourish, first and foremost.
Do Something With It
Don’t let someone’s criticism rattle around your brain for the rest of the day. Once you get back to your desk, it’s time to get motivated and make a plan right then and there to work on whatever it is you fouled up. If you received poor marks on how a project was put together, become more detailed how you map out projects and collaborate with everyone. Not being direct enough with others? Take a course on how to be more vocal to your team.
No matter how big or small the issue is, just be proactive to change.
Image: Veer, rights reserved.
Kyle O’Brien is the Community Manager for an e-learning company, ej4, and has written many articles concerning daily workplace struggles, how to improve one’s leadership abilities and how to motivate employees the right way. Follow them on Google + for more.
Join the Conversation
How to Handle Negative Feedback at Work
Love the sentence “Critiques are a part of the business fabric.” They most certainly are. You can’t expect to grow without critiques. I think of times I was given criticism and know firsthand it did inspire me to become bigger, better, faster, and stronger. If we all believed we were perfect all of the time how would we grow as people? I think the key take away here is to listen. Listening is always the first step along with making sure you are understanding the other person correctly. As an HR consultant I have commonly motivated staff members to view criticism as an opportunity or invitation to become better. When you receive that negative comment find the silver lining in it to help yourself change your way a bit. You never know what you can achieve.
This was a wonderful article with some excellent advice on how to deal with negative feedback in the workplace.
It can be difficult to swallow at the start. However, one really needs to develop the ability to take negative feedback maturely for the reasons you stated in your article such as progressing in our careers.
Those people who can take negative feedback in a constructive way usually are evident in a company, as it these individuals who usually end up making more progress.
I’m glad you liked it! And I wholeheartedly agree with the maturity aspect. It takes guts to wade through negative feedback and come out of it positively.
Great advice Kyle. I see the flip side of this a lot too – people refrain from giving important constructive feedback because the are afraid of how someone will react. Most often those who can’t receive it well can’t (or don’t) give it well. The result – collusion for mediocrity!
Thanks, Susan! I love that last line – “collusion for mediocrity.”
Mr.Kyle. Thank you for the wonderful post.. This will help me to stay calm and handle negative criticism everywhere.
Short and up to point article
Great article Kyle and thank you Jon! My favorite point was the last – “do something about it” – that choice can take you from feeling hopeless to feeling back in the game. I think the small shifts in thinking that you suggest really work to bring your inner thoughts back to neutral, so that instead of feeling attacked you can feel a part of a team who is helping you be your best. No doubt our ego takes a licking at times, but digging back in with two feet can really do a lot to bring our thoughts and emotions back into balance. Thank you!
Thank you for the kind words, Karen! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And great addition about getting into the mindset that most feedback is – or should be viewed as – trying to make you a better contributor to the team. Thanks again!