How To Turn Negative Feedback Into Positive Results

April 4, 2014

Nobody likes negative feedback. No matter how much you claim to want an honest critique, it stings. But this time of year -- when we're resolving to improve ourselves and perhaps undergoing performance reviews -- we're more likely than ever to encounter negative feedback. Instead of viewing it as an excuse to binge eat or gulp a stiff drink, see it as an opportunity to change.

 

The context in which you receive negative feedback shapes your response. You'll act differently during a one-on-one performance evaluation from your boss as opposed to hearing the results of a 360-degree review from a consultant.

 

The first step in turning negative feedback into a positive step is to listen carefully and understand what's being said. Look for the truth in the criticism. Ask follow-up questions and dive into specific examples to make sure you have a firm handle on the scenarios in which there's been a problem.

 

Then, consider whether one of these paths is the right one for you. Up your game - sometimes you hear negative feedback and -- after some soul searching -- you realize that, in fact, you've been working inefficiently or haven't been at the top of your game. The solution to that problem is to resolve to improve your performance, make some changes, and follow up with the critic once you've turned the issue around. After criticism, "double down" and seek to do the best job possible on the next project.

 

You've got to convince the fault finder that you've changed or that they were mistaken in the first place. Deepen the relationship - negative feedback may be an opportunity to improve and deepen your work relationship with the critic. Our natural impulse may be to withdraw from someone who is critical, but you might consider it a fresh start and build a stronger connection.

 

Win back respect - ultimately, your goal with negative feedback is to turn around not only your own behavior and the relationship but also the opinions about you in the workplace. It will probably take time to win back that respect, so prepare for the long haul. Sometimes you have to put in unpaid time or go above your typical boundaries to right the ship.

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