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Turn negative feedback into accomplishments.

April 8, 2011

Receiving negative feedback at work is difficult to process. No one enjoys receiving a poor performance review or negative comments about your work but you can turn it around and make it work for you.

When you receive criticism, stop and take a moment to clear your head. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, find a place of calm within you. You may feel overwhelmed with emotion or you may feel like it’s the end of the world- at least the end of your career. Remember, you will get past this. It’s important to recognize that none of us are perfect; we’ve all made mistakes and received criticism at work.

Consider the feedback you’ve received, looking past any unfavorable language or poorly communicated guidance. Chances are there is some constructive criticism to acknowledge and opportunity for improvement. Even if you’ve performed well to your own standards, your employer may have different culture, standard or goal.

If it was not already provided, ask for specific, measurable goals for improvement. In your manager’s eyes, what does positive performance look like? How is it measured? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Going forward, focus on what you can do better and do it. Pay close attention to the areas you can improve and channel your energy into doing your best work. Wow your employer and co-workers with your efforts and dispel any doubts about your abilities.

Try your best to practice a positive attitude. A positive attitude is contagious, and you will soon have the people around you rallying behind you and supporting you to do great work.

Although it might be tempting to do so, don’t complain! Complaining will lead to resentment, frustration and will hold you back. When you complain you’re focusing on what isn’t working instead of what is. Regardless of any negative feedback you received, you are still a valuable employee with great skills to offer your employer. Recognize your own value and celebrate your talents!

When you can face criticism and use it to improve your performance and attitude, you will gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. You will impress your employer and yourself!

While receiving negative feedback is discouraging at first, recognize that you can do better and applying yourself to development and growth will provide you with a sense of satisfaction and work accomplishments you will carry with you throughout your career.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2011 6:46 am

    Good advice! It’s easy to jump directly to the worst case scenario and lose perspective. (Catastrophic thinking like this is an example of a common Automatic Negative Thought, or ANT, that can be challenged and overcome with practice.) It’s also easy to be so embarrassed by the negative feedback that you are afraid to ask for specific things you can do to improve. Many of us assume that if we got a negative evaluation, it’s because we just can’t do the job. Chances are, though, that there are things we can do, some immediately and with not too much effort, that will make a big difference.

    • April 8, 2011 9:25 am

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I recently experienced a situation at work in which I received some negative, and unfortunately exaggerated, feedback. I was frustrated and discouraged at first and then I remembered how satisfying it can be to take the grain of truth behind the feedback and work on improving that behavior. I now feel grateful for the feedback because I realize while my behavior that caused feedback was exaggerated, I had been focusing on what wasn’t working instead of what was and the negative feedback got me back on track again.

  2. June 29, 2011 10:33 am

    Chrysta, what I especially loved in this post were your suggestions on *how* we can create that space between thought and action. Sometimes, we just need that deep breath to make sure that how we respond is intended and positive.

    Thanks for your input on how we can turn negative into positive. With the instructional and motivational way you right, anything seems possible! =) Thanks, friend!

    • June 29, 2011 12:26 pm

      I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Sam! Thank you!

      That space between thought and action is what I usually call “acceptance” and it’s still a challenge for me. I try to follow the three “A”s of change:

      Awareness– recognizing there’s a problem
      Acceptance– acknowledging my part, what is and isn’t my responsibility, and what I can and can’t change
      Action– taking positive and productive steps to change.

      When I am faced with a problem, I want to jump straight to the action, but usually jumping straight into anything leads me to more problems than solutions! Taking a moment to breathe and calmly consider leads me to more effective and mindful solutions.


      • June 30, 2011 9:12 am

        Ooh! This terminology definitely helps clarify things for me, Chrysta! Clear and concise! Thank you! =)


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