Negative feedback is a double-edged sword. Our kneejerk reaction to it might be embarrassment that we’ve been doing something wrong – and that our colleagues know about it.

It’s natural to have these feelings. What’s important is that we understand criticism can help us to grow. When we get feedback, any feedback, we have an opportunity to strengthen our weaknesses because they have been pointed out to us.

Still, it doesn’t mean that we can’t feel a little bit crushed. Here are some ways to help you deal with feedback with confidence.

Think before you act

Who is actually criticising you? If you know and trust the person bringing a flaw to light, remember that they are on your side and want to see you grow. Honesty is a great way to establish communicative and collaborative relationships between you and your colleague.

Nevertheless, criticism isn’t always dished out nicely. When you’re working with a team, especially in competitive atmospheres, our immediate reaction might not be to take it on the chin. You might need to work hard, but try to take relationships out of it and focus on what they’re actually saying.

Look at it from their side. For many people, giving feedback is also a nerve-wracking experience. Try to see the issue from their point of view. Is something you’re doing holding them back?

This brings us to…

Lay your foundations

Be clear about the source of criticism. Have you understood the root of the problem? Are you sure that you have all the facts? Asking your critic for clarity and specifics is a great way to draw their feedback to a point of observation rather than let it remain a subjective attack (if it started out that way).

Be open to change

Even if you think you’re sure that the criticism is unfounded, withhold retaliation. Being defensive is not a productive response for anyone involved. To stop tensions from rising, ask questions that relate to the feedback: What would your critic suggest you can do better? What would they suggest you change in your approach? It’s quite easy to find fault, but harder to find solutions, so if you present yourself as someone open to finding answers then you might even be in a position where you can work together with your critic to find a suitable move forward.

See it as a chance to grow

Yes, we might feel embarrassed to receive criticism for something we weren’t aware of. But if you were unaware that you were doing something contrary to procedures, you can now learn and resolve to change. Think about it as a pivotal moment: You’ll only get stronger and better from this point onwards.

Remember: It takes courage to face up to where you might have been falling behind!

If you’d like to develop your skills in receiving feedback, talk to your coach or mentor. They can work with you to not only improve those areas of weakness but also your skills as an employee and manager.


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