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Bob Mulcahy – Uniting
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Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

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negative feedback

No one likes receiving negative feedback! It can be a difficult pill to swallow even when posed in a constructive manner and when justified. We all receive negative feedback now and again be that in the form of an annual performance review, at the end of project or following a particular piece of work or incident.
While our natural tendency is often to focus our attention on all things negative and gloss over any positive and encouraging feedback, it is important to give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done when we receive compliments from our peers and leaders.

Likewise, we must acknowledge any negative feedback we receive and use it to help us perform better in the future. While it may be easier said than done, the way we deal with negative criticism can set us apart from our peers. Instead of dwelling on negative comments and letting them impact our attitude and performance, we should take ownership of any constructive criticism we receive and use it as an opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

Make the best of constructive criticism the next time you receive it by following our advice below.

Acknowledge it

In the first instance, you should acknowledge the individual or individuals who provided you with the feedback. It takes courage to provide negative feedback and in addition it can be time consuming to deliver. Show you appreciate their efforts!

Listen & Understand

Is the feedback accurate?

When deciding what weight to give to negative feedback it’s best to first consider if the comments are accurate. Are the comments based on fact or opinion? Perhaps they stem from some factual misunderstanding that is easily explained. Or perhaps they are the opinion of one lone voice in amongst a sea of positive feedback.

What are the motivations for providing it?

In most cases constructive criticism is delivered with the best of intentions but now and again you may receive feedback that you feel has a malicious intent or an ulterior motive. In these cases, it is still advisable to hear the person out however you can choose the weight you attribute to it.

Don’t just hear – listen!

It is easy to make a token gesture of hearing out a piece of negative feedback however to really learn from it we must truly listen to what is being said. Try not to get defensive! When we get defensive we tend to get distracted by arguing our case rather than focusing on the truth of what is being said. Perhaps the best way to deal with this is to listen and ask for time to consider your response.

Take some time

Constructive feedback delivered in a meeting or in a one on one session may come as a surprise if we aren’t expecting it. In such instances it is probably best to hear the feedback and ask for some time to think it over. This way you can avoid any heated arguments if you disagree with the comments. You can also take some time to evaluate what was said and process how you will deal with it rather than responding in the heat of the moment.

Plan your response

Once you have digested the feedback it’s up to you to decide the best course of action. If the criticism is something that could adversely impact your promotion and career potential if unaddressed, then it’s best you take the comments seriously and plan the steps you will take to deal with it. Perhaps this will mean additional training, taking a new approach to a task or handling a relationship with a colleague differently.
It may be worth asking for some examples of the behavior referred to in the feedback? You could also ask the sender for suggestions on how to deal with the points raised.

Learn from it

Having acknowledged the negative feedback and put a plan in place to address any weaknesses, you have really done all that can be expected. Your best course of action therefore is not to dwell on the feedback any longer but view it as means of self-development putting you back on the path to progression.