How to Overcome Negative Feedback

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We’ve all been there. Whether in a monthly meeting with a boss or in an annual performance review, we’ve all been in the position of receiving negative feedback.

thumbs-downAlthough not everyone is great at giving feedback—and we all communicate in a different style—it’s important to do everything you can to get the most out of these difficult conversations so that you can learn and grow. After all, without feedback, we would not grow and learn as professionals.

When you find yourself receiving negative feedback, try to remember these three steps to turn a negative experience into a positive one:

1. Focus on the facts – Your adrenaline is pumping, your heart rate goes up, your palms start to sweat, and it’s easy to lose focus on the information that is coming your way. All that you’re hearing is, “You’re not good enough.” Take a deep breath and focus. The information that you’re receiving is valuable to your success. Try to take a step back and LISTEN. Not everyone is great at delivering negative feedback and that makes it that much more important to try and separate the facts from the emotions. It’s not easy but you need to be sure that you’re not missing the overarching message that’s communicated. What areas do you need to develop? How can you use your strengths to balance out these weaknesses?

2. What can you learn? – After the conversation, take some time to digest the information you received. When you’re ready, ask yourself what can be learned from the feedback. How can you shore up these gaps in performance? Make a list or begin to brainstorm steps you can take to make sure that you don’t receive this feedback again. After all, the importance of these conversations is to allow you to grow professionally. I’ll say it again, without someone there to point out our blind spots, we fail to develop in both our personal and professional lives.

3. Create a development plan – Now that you’ve identified the facts, your emotions have cooled and you’ve begun to identify steps you can take to improve your performance and achieve your goals, create a professional development plan. A good professional development plan has clearly defined goals that are important to YOU and not necessarily those of your current company. Now, how will you reach these goals? Create a step-by-step process that will help you shore up the gaps in your performance and get you closer to those goals. You might start out with smaller goals that you can achieve in a short amount of time, and that’s okay. You can only reach an ultimate goal by setting smaller goals along the way. No matter how small the goal, reaching it is a victory to be celebrated. If you’re struggling with the creation of this plan, ask those around you for help. A mentor, career coach and trusted peers are all great resources to help keep you on the right track. You might also consider sharing this development plan with your boss and including them in the process to show that you did hear the feedback and are committed to taking the necessary steps to improve your performance.

Negative feedback is never easy but remembering these three steps will help turn a negative experience into a positive one. And remember, the next time that you must have a difficult conversation, what would you change about the delivery of negative feedback to ensure that others can also learn and grow from the experience?

What other tips would you recommend? How have you handled receiving negative feedback?

Need help formulating a professional development plan? OI Global Partners executive coaches can help!

Jessica joins the OI Global Partners – Innovative Career Consulting team as a Georgia native with deep roots in Colorado. As a graduate of the University of Georgia, she is a highly motivated, results-oriented professional with experience in recruiting, staff training, and leadership. Jessica has worked in the fields of hospitality, banking, and mortgage which have allowed her to develop strong skills in the areas of company strategy, direction, and communication. Her experience helps leaders and clients achieve their goals in the areas of Executive Search, Executive Coaching and Career Transition. She offers excellent interpersonal skills, creative thought and a drive to her clients.  

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