Processing and acting on negative feedback is not always easy. Depending on how feedback is given it can make us defensive, angry and self-conscious, which consequently impairs our efficacy. While critical feedback should be given objectively and with the purest of motives this is always not the case. Despite the best of intentions feedback can be inaccurate, malicious or unreasonable. It is hard to know what is real and what should be filtered out.
Despite these obvious flaws, feedback is a crucial driver of performance and effectiveness in your career. Negative feedback in particular can be valuable because it allows us to monitor our performance and brings our attention to those areas you may be lacking. Employees who ask for critical feedback are seen as more effective by their superiors and colleagues, while those who seek positive feedback only risk compromising their performance and effectiveness.
While there are plenty of resources available on how to ask for critical feedback, there is comparatively little guidance on how to navigate questionable or hard feedback we receive. How do you muster courage to speak out against unfair assessment; unreasonable expectations or identify the tricky case of a boss projecting their own issues onto you? How do you accept critical feedback for insight without letting the noise undermine your self-worth and confidence?
Here are 3 practical actions that could help you hear critical feedback openly and calmly, and make the best of out of it.
Do not Rush to React
Stinging feedback can illicit different responses in different individuals: animosity, confusion, denial, self-hatred or low self-esteem. Some responses can be violent like punching walls, while others can be mild like blaming your boss. Let us be honest, no one is necessarily fond of being reminded their flaws even if we are completely aware of them. You should not feel pressured (even though it is tempting) to respond right away. Give yourself time to carefully consider what was said before deciding what to do next.
Expand Your Sources
It can be disconcerting to learn that people see us in a different light. It not entirely impossible for your colleagues to see you in negative light besides doing your best. This is pretty much part and parcel of the world we live in. It is always a good idea to run your doubts through trustworthy sources to get a rounded perspective. Our world runs on opinions because we all perceive reality differently. Basically, you want more detail about your character to avoid misguided conclusions based an overarching opinion.
We tend to feel repulsive towards people who give us negative feedback. If anything we should pull people who tell us their honest opinions (not necessarily the truth) even closer.
Our critics can become our greatest champions.
You should treat critical feedback as an open, ongoing dialogue of improvement, provided that your environment is supportive. Granted, a lot of superiors treat critical feedback as abattoirs so it can be challenge to build a positive environment. Either way, you should be thankful for feedback and use it as a prime point to reset expectations moving forward.