The first hurdle to overcome is how to manage the occasion when the negative feedback is delivered to you. Chances are the feedback will come out of the blue when you’re least expecting it, but when it does happen, we want you to try and remember to do these three things:
Stop for a secondOur natural instinct when someone says something negative is to defend ourselves and to come back fighting! So much so that we often don’t actually take in what people are saying. Our first piece of advice is to take a moment to process what you've been told. This helps your response to be measured rather than emotional, which will lead to a better outcome, solution or action plan.
Reverse the lensWhenever anyone shares negative feedback try to take a look at what’s been said from the other person’s point of view. What is it that has made sharing the feedback necessary? Be honest with yourself – could there be some basis in what they're saying? If you choose to ignore what is said, then you are cutting off the opportunity to find out what the basis for the feedback is, and that means there’s a likelihood that you may be missing out on an opportunity for self-improvement and growth.
Respond with kindnessRegardless of the news you’ve been given, thank the person for taking the time to share their feedback with you; summarise what they've said to you, so they know that you've heard their concerns; then reassure them that you'll consider the points raised. Letting someone know that you’ve listened to their views goes a long way to resolving whatever issues you’re facing – and it will definitely buy you some time to think about the feedback and what you’re going to do about it.
Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to think about how to actually deal with the feedback you’ve been given. The first thing to remember is that, in the vast majority of cases, people only give feedback because they care and want to see an improvement in the situation. This is a good basis to work from. By recognising this fact, we can start to reframe our thinking and see negative feedback as a positive opportunity for growth.
This blog post by Psychology Today contains some useful strategies for dealing with bad news, such as contextualising the situation and using it to effect transformative change. It’s especially important for you to take care of yourself during times of emotional upset. Eat well, avoid alcohol and get some exercise. Looking after your physical and mental health will help you navigate through your emotions to reach a positive conclusion to the feedback received.
And remember, you are not defined by this feedback. It is just one person’s view of a particular issue or situation. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide whether – on reflection and after examining the evidence – you choose to agree with them, or not.