How to Respond to Negative Feedback at Work Professionally

How to Respond to Negative Feedback at Work Professionally
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What steps would you take if you were insulted or criticized on the job? How would you respond? With defensiveness or composure? If a client or customer complains, how should you respond?

We all have to deal with constant negative criticism. Don’t let negative comments make you upset or furious. Maintain your composure and listen to the other person with respect. Doing so will hone your abilities and acquire essential insight into your strengths and shortcomings.

If you need help with how to respond to criticism at work professionally, this article will provide some pointers on how to handle criticism and keep your cool.

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1. Think first before you respond

In one study, researchers asked people to read a story about a character who received negative feedback. Then, participants either took a break or completed some simple math problems while thinking about how the person reacted to the criticism. Those who did the math performed better on subsequent tests than those who didn’t.

This suggests that doing something else during the emotional response helps you process it later. Researchers believe this happens because taking breaks allows us to refocus on what we’re trying to accomplish rather than how upset we feel.

2. Take a pause

Pausing gives you time to think about how you want to respond. And this doesn’t mean reacting later. If you do, you’ll likely come off defensive and sound angry. Instead, pause first and ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Then, use those feelings to guide your response.

For example, if you feel frustrated, say, “I’m sorry you found my comment offensive.” Or if you feel hurt, say, “I’m sorry I offended you.”

Here’s another way to help you pause: When you hear feedback, ask yourself, “Is this person trying to help me improve?” If the answer is yes, great! Use the information they shared to learn from the situation.

If the answer is no, note why the person isn’t giving you helpful feedback. Maybe s/he feels threatened by you, or perhaps s/he needs to vent. Whatever the reason, try to understand it. Next time, consider asking for advice from someone else.

3. Collect data

The best way to understand yourself is to get more data. You’ll never really know how others perceive you unless you ask them directly. Sometimes, it helps to do a 360° review.

Other times, talking about how you’re perceived in person is helpful. You might even want to take advantage of those moments when you feel like someone is judging you.

Even if you think you already know exactly how you’re viewed, there are still things you can do to improve your reputation. For example, you could start a conversation with a colleague in a different department. Or you could ask a coworker to give honest feedback about your performance.

4. Reacting defensively is not a good move

When we react defensively, we become attached to our idea of who we think we are and start believing that what others say is true. This leads to us becoming defensive and angry. If we manage our emotions well enough, we can avoid losing control and reacting out of anger.

If we decide to defend ourselves, we tend to focus on our ideas and beliefs and ignore anything else being said. We often want to show off our knowledge and prove that we know everything. This makes us look arrogant and stubborn. Not good.

When we choose the third option – letting go and accepting what others are saying – we stop focusing on defending ourselves and start listening to what the other person has to say.

Instead of looking down on them, we see a human being trying to help us improve. We realize that they, too, are struggling with the same things we are.

5. View Negative Feedback as a Positive!

Negative feedback is often dismissed as a waste of time. However, it can be very useful. When we receive negative feedback, we tend to think that our performance is poor or that we’re doing something wrong.

But what if we could look at negative feedback as a positive thing? Here are three ways to make the most out of negative feedback.

1. Use it to help you grow. When we receive negative feedback, it’s easy to become defensive. We might even feel like we’ve been singled out. It’s important to remember that negative feedback doesn’t mean someone thinks poorly of us; it simply means there is room for improvement.

2. Look at the positives. The best way to take advantage of negative feedback is to focus on the good points rather than dwell on the negatives. This makes it easier to learn from the experience and move forward.

3. Keep it constructive. If you feel upset by negative feedback, try to keep it focused on specific things you can change. Focus on the aspects of your work that you can improve upon.

6. Take Action

Negative feedback is positive. You are given information about what you need to do differently to move forward. You allow yourself to remain stuck if you don’t act upon it.

You must take responsibility for the areas where you feel you have failed. This is how you start taking steps toward improvement.

When you find something that needs improving, ask yourself why you did it and what you could have done better. For example, you might realize that you need to give more thought to your customer service. So, you decide to look into ways to improve this area.

7. Move on

Asking questions is particularly useful because it helps you understand what people want to know about.

When you ask questions, you’re demonstrating interest in learning something new. This encourages others to help you know too. They’ll feel motivated to answer your question if they think you’ll use the information to improve yourself.

And asking questions makes you look like someone interested in learning, which is exactly how you want to come across online.

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If you’re unsure how to respond to negative feedback professionally, don’t worry – we can help.

Our team of expert resume writers is well-versed in formatting responses to difficult questions on resumes. Contact us today for a free consultation, and take one step closer to wowing your future employer.

Learning how to respond to negative feedback professionally can be difficult, but it is a necessary skill for anyone in the workforce.

If you find yourself struggling with this issue, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Our team of expert resume writers can assist you in developing a response that will impress your boss and reflect well on you as an employee. Contact us today to get started!

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