How to deal with negative feedback

Learn which factors can help when it's time to bounce back from criticism in the workplace.

At some point in our lives, we’ll receive the dreaded negative feedback in a meeting or an honest conversation. 

Of course nobody likes to hear criticism, but it’s important to understand that it is necessary and that it can help our development in points that are still unripe in our careers.

The leader should have the sensitivity to pass it on in a constructive and not destructive way, allowing the collaborator to understand in which points they made mistakes. Otherwise, this will generate discomfort for both parties and the processes won’t be improved.

Negative feedback should not make the person lose their motivation or trust in their own abilities. That’s why we’ve selected some tips that will help you react with professionalism when you receive it.

The importance of negative feedback

Feedback is fundamental in the workplace. After all, it’s through feedback that departments and managers can measure part of the processes and check the progress of activities. 

Leaders need to perform good management and exchange information with their subordinates. This means that they have to point out mistakes, considering they have the necessary experience and knowledge to do so.

Positive feedback should work as a source of motivation and negative feedback needs to provide the necessary information for someone to evolve to the next level. 

Criticism shouldn’t be taken personally, and facing it requires maturity.

Thus, negative feedback is important for all spheres. It helps with a person’s evolution, charts new professional goals, and motivates teams to give their best for a common objective.

5 tips to receive negative feedback well

Great personalities, influential people, and CEOs of well-known brands all have had a long trajectory until they became who they are today. For sure, this path has not been easy and it was full of feedback, both positive and negative. 

The biggest difference between respected and average professionals is the way they deal with problems and criticism. That’s why we selected 5 tips to make this process simpler.

1. Don’t be in a hurry to respond 

Brashness can ruin many relationships, including at work. 

After a meeting or an online criticism, don’t try to refute it right away, make up excuses, or blame other people for the situation. 

Taking some time to think and reflect upon it will make your response wiser and more credible.

Psychologists call this transformation cognitive reevaluation, when people start to view the feedback as something useful and beneficial for their evolution.

2. Get more information

In order to react to feedback, respond to it, and propose changes, it’s important to understand the situation in its entirety. 

If someone complains about your content or results, ask more detailed questions, such as: 

  • Which periods weren’t satisfactory?
  • What was the expectation?
  • What do you think I could have done differently?

This way, the feedback leaves the abstract sphere and becomes tangible information.

In addition, it has to be related to the work performed, and not with the personal vision of the critic. That’s why good feedback criticizes the work, never the person.

Try to understand objectively what can be improved and ask for help from managers so that you can evolve and avoid new mistakes. This way, you’ll be changing your habits and showing that you intend to develop more and more.

Another factor is that you should only consider feedback coming from people directly related to your work. There are many comments and constructive criticism from random people who don’t have the necessary knowledge to give them or just want to criticize without any intent to help.

3. Show that you’re willing to change

After providing feedback, it’s normal for people to expect changes. There’s no point in recognizing mistakes and proposing improvements if they are not put into practice. 

It’s hard to see our mistakes and even harder to change the way we do certain things.

However, changes must happen, even if they are made in small gestures. 

Try to show effort by studying more, talking to specialists and looking for complementary courses and training in your area.

4. Don’t feel like a victim

Good critics try to create empathy when delivering feedback. That’s why playing the victim or becoming isolated isn’t a mature or interesting attitude for improvement. 

Criticism shouldn’t be a source of anger or apathy, but rather a lever that will challenge you to achieve new goals.

5. Say “thank you”

Thanking people in delicate situations gives you moral authority. This act is so simple, but usually forgotten. 

Even if you receive aggressive or mean feedback, thank the person who meant to share it with you.

If the person who made the comment wanted to help, gratitude is in order, as they’ve set aside part of their time to help you in some way.

If the comment wasn’t given with the intention of helping, thank the attitude and close the subject. Sometimes, people use criticism to try to create quarrels and disagreements, and, when you thank them, you avoid the needless conflict.

Negative feedback as a bridge to success

After a report or a meeting with negative feedback, it’s important to face the criticism with maturity and try to grow and develop at work. 

No successful entrepreneur got to the top without receiving criticism, however, all of them knew how to use it to improve their weaknesses and turn setbacks into bridges for success.

In addition, feedback shouldn’t define who you are or the work performed. Many factors contribute to a good or terrible performance and, in some cases, the best thing to do is to forget the incident and move on.

These tips are valuable, especially if you’re in the beginning your career or venturing into a new area. It’s hard to get everything right from the start, but it’s important to believe in yourself and your potential.

Therefore, after these tips hopefully negative feedback will no longer be an obstacle or a fear factor in your career.

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