How to Take Negative Feedback

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Managing negative feedback is one thing that even the best of us have struggled with in the past.

Even though we’re all working towards improving on how we respond to feedback and criticisms, it is never a 100 per cent hit right. It’s never going to be perfect. However, we’re not seeking perfection. Our goal is to become aware of how we’re reacting and responding to others’ opinions of us that we don’t like the sound of. We aim to improve on our consistency in achieving the right response.

Usually, when we receive feedback or when someone has said something about us that we don’t appreciate, the first thing that happens is that we feel this physical sense of stress and an overwhelming rush of negative emotions. And so, depending on our personality type, we either attack and raise our defence level or react calmly. There’s also the tendency to say or do something to that person that we would later regret in the future.

For others, after receiving biting feedback, they are wont to take it quite personally and then retreat to dwell on it later when they’re alone. And that’s when the sting of the criticism hits harder. So, how do we manage feedback the right way?


Understanding your personality type

In handling criticisms or negative feedback, the first task would be to understand how best you receive feedback. I’ve been in a group session where everyone sat down to figure out each other’s personality type or profile using a program called ‘Insights’. It was great because it taught the team members to understand the kind of persons they were and how they managed their feedback.

The program enabled me to realise that I was this direct guy who loved hearing direct feedback without any attempt by the appraiser to sugar-coat their criticisms. However, a downside to my personality trait was that I tended to respond harshly also. So, for me, the challenge was to try and tone down on my response after every feedback that I got. For some others in the team, they found out that they needed an alone time to dwell on the feedback they just received. It was a response type popular amongst the introverts.

So, it would be great if you enlist in a similar program to find out your personality type and how best you respond to criticisms. Then you can start to build on that.


Relax before responding

The second task would be to look at the physical reaction that you’re having after every feedback. In most cases, the body is in a heightened and hyper mode, ready to jump and react. You need to watch out and slow down the process of how your body is reacting. You do this by mindful breathing. It is a way your body gets past the range of emotions and moves you back to the parasympathetic state. When your body is relaxed, you can then respond logically if you ever need to.


Analyse the feedback you get

The next is to analyse the feedback for what it is. Is it true? Is it designed to help or hinder you? Is your critic really attacking your person or they’re just noting a fault from your end and giving you back feedback that you potentially needed to hear? You will never be able to grow unless you open up and hear the negative side of you that you need to improve on. You will think you know your faults and can deal with them on your own. You can’t be farther from the truth. We all need to understand how others perceive us. That way, we can grow and improve better.

Finally, adopt these steps, and you will find you’re better able to manage every feedback you get from others.