Receiving negative feedback is difficult. Our first reaction is not always helpful. Some of us get angry. Others become emotional. Still others shut down. Rarely is negative feedback followed by a productive conversation. Which means that, after the discussion, we feel bad rather than upbeat.
Here are 5 tips to create a positive discussion after receiving negative feedback.
- See it as opportunity to become even better. When we hear negative feedback, we often assume the other tries to tell us ‘we’re not good enough’. That hurts. However, if we view the comment as a potential opportunity for growth, it becomes much more ‘acceptable’.
- Ask: “Tell me more”. Negative feedback is often ‘incomplete’. We don’t really know what precisely was not good enough, or how we could act better next time. ‘Tell me more’ is one of the most beautiful leadership phrases, gently inviting the other party to give the necessary explanations.
- Rephrase: “So what you’re trying to tell me is…”. Very often we think we understand what the other party is trying to tell, yet our interpretation is biased by our own convictions. If we want to show a constructive attitude AND really seize the potential of the feedback, it’s a good idea to summarize what we’ve heard and check if understanding is right. It’s astonishing how often the other party will correct us!
- Get into ‘problem solving’ mode. Once we’ve really understood the feedback, it’s helpful to come up with a couple of suggestions: ‘would it help if…’, ‘could we do x…’, ‘what about doing y’. Not only will we create more alignment with the other party for the future, in addition we will leave the discussion with much more clarity and positive energy.
- Thank for the feedback! Whether the other party was mean or constructive while giving the feedback, it’s always good to thank them for the feedback. The mean person will feel a bit destabilized by our gratitude, the constructive person will appreciate it. In both cases, we come out as a winner.