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How to receive negative feedback at work

At work, it isn’t easy to be 100 percent perfect and productive all the time. There are times when you will falter, will be pulled up and even held responsible for events out of your control. So how do we handle criticism at work? The answer is, with grace and an open mindset.

A positive mindset or in one word, optimism. Negative feedback by such people is treated as a learning experience and an opportunity to improve.

Importance of feedback for leaders

Avoid reacting: Do not get defensive or find excuses. If someone is giving you feedback on the task done, then lend an ear and listen. 

Listen and Acknowledge: Curb your immediate reaction to deflect the criticism and try to understand what is being said to you. Allow the person to share their thoughts without interruption. 

Just focus on what is being said without assigning any motives or getting any personalities involved.

Deconstruct the feedback: Take the opportunity to clarify some issues. Ask what led them to arrive at the conclusion they did.

Ask why s/he thinks you did not do the best job there is. Or why they think that you should not have spoken up at the meeting?

 Try to establish if the person has noticed this as a pattern or was it a one-off mistake?

And finally, ask for a solution for a task-related criticism. Or ask how you could have handled a particular situation better if it is a behavior issue.

If you feel the need for a further in-depth talk, then request a follow-up interview. Say that you need to clear some things and need to get on the same page and want to find out the next step in the issue.

When giving negative feedback, a savvy manager can encourage people to take another look at their way of thinking and change their interpretation of events. H/she can encourage people to not give up easily, try to look at things from the other person’s point of view, be empathetic, and not take offense at the slightest things.

Move On: Constructive criticism is a good way to improve and build upon your weaknesses. Remember, it is not easy to criticize others in a work situation and to give feedback. Take it as a positive input and move on.

Humor: Having a sense of humor always helps in difficult situations. It does not mean one treats criticism as a joke, but the ability to take it in the right spirit is important.

A strong support system: Strong support at home and at the workplace goes a long way in handling feedback. These are the people who will not whitewash your faults. They will also be your sounding board to work out your issues.

Most importantly the ability to take feedback in a positive manner means the ability to embrace one’s inadequacy and overcome it.

Fear of the ability to handle a task leads one to learn the skill and strive better. Employees wanting to grow in the environment will benefit from learning to cope with the feedback and use the same to overcome the shortcomings. Negative feedbacks and conflicts are all a part of developing workplace resilience and consistency.

Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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