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6 Tips For Taking Negative Feedback at Work

Constructive criticism can be hard to swallow sometimes.  Let’s take a look at some ways to deal with negative or harsh feedback at work.  I’ll go over how to handle it and what actions that you may want to take to deal with it positively.

Ask For Help and Accept Help

One way to handle negative feedback when given by a superior is first to acknowledge that there is a problem.  Then ask if you can have help in changing it.  For example, if you’ve been called on the carpet as a teacher for not supervising recess duty well enough, ask if you can have a teacher’s aid with you.  Or ask your superior how he or she would like you to do things differently so that the kids are under better control.  Make sure that your superior is specific enough so that you can understand and accept the help that he or she is giving you.  You will need to know exactly how to change your behavior so that there will be a shift in your work output that will please your boss.

Try To Change How You Do Things

If you’ve received negative feedback at work, try change up the way you do things.  Toy with the idea that your boss may actually be correct in giving you negative feedback.  Then change your style to fit his or her preferences.  Remember, that you work for someone else, and you are working for the paycheck.  This doesn’t mean that you should ever compromise any moral or ethical standards that you have.  But it does mean that your superior is in charge.  So simply change to fit his or her desires for how you get your work tasks done.

Avoid Getting Too Defensive

A common reaction to receiving negative feedback is to get defensive.  We are all human and depending on the size of your ego; you may want to snap back.  Resist doing that.  Even if it means counting to 10.  Of course, do this in your head, or your boss may get aggravated, and well you know.  Not a good idea to show you are upset enough to count to 10 out loud.  Remain cool as a cucumber on the outside.  Whatever you do, even if your boss is wrong, don’t get too defensive.  There is a time and a place to defend yourself, so choose wisely when to do that.  Don’t ever do it from an emotional standpoint when you are upset for being reprimanded.

Thank The Person Who Gave You The Feedback

A common reaction to receiving negative feedback is to back away or defend yourself.  Try instead to thank the person for giving you the feedback.  You may want to say something like this, “Thank you for letting me know about this.”  Or “I didn’t realize I was not refilling the copy paper machine at work.  I can see how that is not fair to other workers.  Thanks so much for telling me.  I’ll make sure next time to check the copy machine paper bin after I make copies.  If it’s empty, I’ll refill it.”  When you thank the person, it often has a heartwarming effect on them.  In the end, you win because if they were too harsh, hopefully, they will feel bad and change their attitude in how they speak to you next time.

Ask Questions

Make sure to ask if you have any questions after receiving negative feedback.  If you don’t have specific questions, you may want to simply say, “Is there anything else that I should know?”  Don’t risk walking away not sure what you are being reprimanded for.  If you do that, chances are you will continue doing what made your boss give you negative feedback in the first place.

Don’t Take It Personal

Taking negative or harsh feedback personal is easy.  This is especially true if you have a passion for the work that you are doing.  To have someone come in and say that they aren’t pleased with how you are operating can hurt.  Realize that they are human too and that they may want things done their way.  Another boss may love how you doing things.  If you think that he is wrong for giving you negative feedback, it’s ok to hold on to that feeling.  Then accept that he is wrong and change to do things his way.  Whatever you do, don’t let it hurt your feelings.  Not everything needs to be a personal hit.

Apologize But Don’t Over Do It

Saying that you are sorry is a mature response when you mess up.  Sometimes you may want to say it even when you think you didn’t mess up. Say something like, “I didn’t realize. I’m very sorry.  I’ll do it differently next time.”  And leave it at that.  Don’t keep saying you are sorry, mainly if you don’t agree with your boss.  Once is enough.

Final Thoughts

Receiving negative feedback is a part of life.  Even if you are your own boss, at some point or another, you’ll most likely receive negative feedback.  It may come from a customer or at a business event.  Most of the time it will come from a superior if a company employs you.  Try to look at it through their eyes when you receive negative feedback.  They may be dealing with their own insecurities and they may feel the need to micromanage you, or they may be correct in giving you negative feedback.  Try to roll with the flow.  Accept the input, make a change in how you do things and move on.

Related Article: 12 Ways To Tactfully Ask Your Boss For a Raise

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