Responding to Negative Feedback
I’m a “feeler” by nature - it’s simply how I’m wired. If you’re feeling blue, I’ll feel it right with you. If you need someone to spread your enthusiasm to a room, I can make it happen. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader and commiserate over trials right along with you. Give me a compliment, you’ve made my whole day. Look at me sideways, “WHY DO YOU HATE ME?” I kid, mostly. Throughout the years, this little personality trait has come in quite handy in my personal life, but can oftentimes make navigating the working world feel like wading through landmines.
These days, women are breaking through glass ceilings left and right and leaving the professional world better than we found it. But - that’s not to say it’s easy. As professional women, we want to be seen as strong, confident, assertive, and able to take whatever the day throws at us – which, we totally are and can. But, when you’re a “feeler” like I am, you can find yourself swallowing your emotions so you aren’t seen as weak.
At some point in your career, you’ll inevitably be faced with negative feedback. It may be from a colleague, a boss, a client or customer, or even in the form of social media comments. I was once called insensitive on social media and sensitive me had a really, really hard time getting over it. I had to analyze how my words really were easily misunderstood and explain myself.
I also once had a co-worker that had a strong disdain for my personality and was on a mission to let me know it. The constant negative feedback was something I had to learn to let roll off my back. Other times, I’ve had bosses that saw potential, but truly wanted to help me improve. Any of this sound familiar, ladies?
I’ve found myself on a rollercoaster journey to grow thicker skin and can thank these instances of feedback for that. It’s never easy, but handling negative feedback gracefully can set you apart from the rest and help establish yourself as a real leader. Plus, let’s face it, feedback often brings to light some of the best opportunities for improvement. Take them by the horns!
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Don’t let it get the best of you. Breathe deep and get your emotions under control before reacting. Plan a response before you respond. I use the notes section in my phone all the time for jotting down my responses to any sort of situation before hitting send.
- Analyze the critique and use it as an opportunity to grow and improve. You can’t fix something you aren’t aware of, so take the feedback to heart.
- When the feedback - no matter how difficult it may be to hear - is coming from a good place, say thank you. Odds are, if someone cares enough about you to give you constructive feedback, it’s as awkward for them as it is for you.
- Sometimes, however, people are just mean. If after analyzing the feedback, you realize it’s from a place of spitefulness, jealousy, or an attempt to undermine you and your work, pull a Taylor and SHAKE.IT.OFF. Explain yourself if need be, but don’t let unwarranted negativity eat you alive.
- Realize it’s ok to be emotional. I for one can’t bottle it up, but have learned that there is an appropriate time and place to be emotional – and it’s not at work. For me, it’s in my bathtub with a glass of wine. I highly recommend this.
- Move right along. Make the changes you need to make and don’t dwell on it. After some self-reflection, implement some changes and keep on hustling. This is a great way to earn some well-deserved respect (because this part is hard). Don’t waste your energy dwelling, spend it on improving.
Keep using that feedback to break that glass. The world will thank you for it.
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