Let’s face it, at first, getting a negative review can leave you feeling humiliated and demotivated with no energy to show up at work the next day.
But here’s the thing. Whatever success looks like for you, making mistakes are an integral part of the journey to achieving your goals. Ultimately, the measure of your success isn’t determined by your mistakes, it’s determined by the way you respond to those mistakes.
Throughout my career of developing and training leaders, I’ve met many professionals who transformed negative feedback into an opportunity for growth. Sometimes, negative feedback led them to innovate their offerings. For others, it helped them develop deeper relationships with their customers and colleagues. Whichever route they decided to take, the decision started with their belief that mistakes are inevitable and necessary for growth. It all depends on how you look at things.
Give Yourself Time to Process Your Emotions
Often times, the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people lies in their ability to manage their emotions. So before you react to negative feedback or a bad review, take a few deep breaths, and allow yourself time to process your thoughts.
Sometimes, it’s instinctive to view feedback as judgment, criticism or a personal attack on who you are as a person. Challenging your mind to think differently takes practice. If possible, delay your response or ask the person for a few hours or even a full day to reflect and address the issues mentioned.
On the one hand, perspectives are subjective. Just because someone gave you negative feedback — doesn’t mean you have to accept it. On the other hand, sometimes we can’t see ourselves the way others do. In either case, get curious so you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and separate facts from feelings and opinions.
When you adopt a spirit of curiosity, it allows you to reframe the thoughts in your mind and ease anxiety or frustration. For instance, instead of feeling bad about getting a negative review, what if you looked at it as an opportunity to learn something new and improve? What if you look at negative feedback as the person doing you a favor? Look at it this way, feedback is fuel for your growth.
Write down the feedback you’ve heard as well as any assumptions that you’re making about the situation. To gain clarity, think about some of the questions you’d like to ask the person who gave you negative feedback.
Ask for Examples and Specific Feedback
Since you’re on the receiving end of hearing negative feedback about your performance, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your career. Become your best advocate and own your story in the workplace.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when giving feedback is speaking vaguely about the other person’s performance. Non-descriptive statements like “I need you to be proactive or you lack self-confidence,” are vague and open to interpretation.
Useful feedback is specific. It should provide an example of what the person observed and practical steps, which clearly outline desired behaviors or an example of what success looks like for them.
Context is key — stick to the facts. Ask questions such as: “When did I display signs that I lacked self-confidence? How do you think I could be more proactive during meetings?”
Remember, as you’re asking questions to gain clarity, you’re still considering if this feedback is valid and valuable to your growth and development. Feedback without context is useless.
Accepting feedback doesn’t mean you agree with it. You can acknowledge someone’s experience, without letting it dictate your self-worth or what you can or cannot do in life.
You can show appreciation because you value the relationship more than being right — particularly in a work environment, where you have to continue working together.
Take the Lead in Following Up
Take the initiative to schedule check-ins to discuss progress or open the lines of communication with the person who gave you negative feedback. The last thing you want to hear is repeated negative feedback about something that could’ve been avoided.