Negative feedback is normal occasionally, but it doesn't need to get you down
No-one's perfect, so it's natural that sometimes, you may receive negative feedback at work. It's not always easy to hear, but it's important that you take it in with grace. If you're unsure of how to deal with negative feedback at work, here are six tips for receiving and handling it from a manager.
Try not to take the negative feedback personally
Negative feedback presents an opportunity to learn and improve your performance in the workplace, so it's best not to take it personally. While it may sometimes feel like an attack on your character, receiving feedback is a natural part of any job. Instead of getting defensive or feeling like you're being criticised, try to take a step back and look at the situation through an objective lens. More often than not, negative feedback from a manager is constructive, so listen to what is being said and consider how you might be able to use this information to improve your performance at work.
Avoid jumping to conclusions
Upon receiving negative feedback in any work environment, it's easy to jump to conclusions. Emotions can run high in these situations, so you might assume that your manager is out to get you or that they don't like you. You might feel like you need to take a stand and tell them they're wrong, because you feel that your character is being criticised. But this is often not the case, so avoid making assumptions until you've heard and considered what they have to say. Take a breath, listen to all of the information, and then think about how it may help you to improve your performance.
Receiving feedback should not be a one-way street. It's important to ask questions and seek clarification on any points that are raised that you feel need to be explained further. After all, how can you improve your performance if you're not clear on what changes need to be made?
If you're offered specific feedback, try asking how you can apply it in your role or what your manager would like to see you do differently. By asking questions, you'll show that you care about your position and that you're receptive to feedback.
Remain positive and open
This may be difficult, but try to keep an open mind and remain positive about receiving feedback. This doesn't mean that you need to be overly apologetic or try to explain away any criticisms you may receive, because that can hurt you in the future. Rather, by staying positive, you'll be more likely to leverage the opportunities that can arise from difficult feedback, such as receiving more support in your role, additional training, or perhaps implementing a new process to improve your workflow. Negative feedback does not need to feel negative if you can spot the potential positive outcomes.
Remember your manners
It's always important to end a meeting on a good note, so remember your manners and say thank you after receiving feedback, no matter how critical it was. You may not agree with all of the feedback you've received, but if you thank your manager for taking the time to address it with you, it will help to build and maintain a positive work relationship between you both, and may in fact improve the outcome of the next meeting you have together.
Take it on board
Receiving negative feedback is one thing, but taking it on board and applying it to your workflow is another thing entirely. It's not enough to just be receptive to feedback ‒ you need to show your manager that you've taken it into consideration and that you're applying it to your role. You could do this by sending an email to your manager a few days after your meeting with a shortlist of the changes you've made since receiving the feedback. Or you could show that you're proactive by suggesting a new process or procedure to the team that may streamline an existing task. The trick is to think about how you can use the negative feedback that you've received to do your job better.
If you're still feeling unsure of how to deal with negative feedback at work, remember that your manager is there to support you and help you to improve in your role. You both want the same thing: high-quality work. So ask questions, take on board any information you receive, and see it as an opportunity for improvement.
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