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Nobody’s perfect. No matter what, we all make mistakes. Inevitably, there will come a time when your boss, manager, or coworker will have negative feedback about your work performance.

So, what will you do? How will you react?

Negative feedback isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and become a stronger, better version of yourself! But if you respond poorly when you receive negative feedback? Well, you could run into problems down the road.

Your Gut Reaction

First thing’s first: how does negative feedback make you feel? Think back to a time where someone complained about your performance or your behavior. What was your gut reaction? Were you hurt? Angry? Sad? Embarrassed?

Many times, when someone views us in a “negative” light, we react before we think. First, we try to deny the veracity of the statement. Then, we direct our anger towards the person that we view as our “attacker.” Finally, in an attempt to rid ourselves of responsibility, we blame someone else.

Does this sound familiar? If not – great. You’re ahead of the game. But if it does, then just realize that you’re not alone! Receiving feedback gracefully is an art. Better yet – it’s an art that can be learned.

The Feedback Steps

Imagine that you’re sitting at a table with your boss. They look at you and say, “I’ve noticed that you’re struggling to complete your work on time. You’re falling behind.” This comes as a surprise to you; you thought that you were doing well.

In order to receive this feedback constructively (and positively), you should:

  1. Remind yourself that negative feedback isn’t a personal attack.
  2. View the feedback from their point of view. Put yourself in their shoes before you react or respond.
  3. Ask for clarification. Since you didn’t expect this feedback, ask your boss for specific examples of your tardiness and take notes.
  4. Repeat the information back to them to let them know you’ve heard and understood their feedback.
  5. Provide a short list of possible ways to remedy the situation. Brainstorm with them to find a solution that works best.
  6. Last but not least, stay true to your word. When you’ve selected a solution, stick to it! Prove that you’re ready to move forward.

Avoiding Negative Feedback

Now that you’ve mastered receiving negative feedback, it’s time to learn to avoid it. This is, believe it or not, much easier than you might expect. Instead of waiting for your employer to come to you with feedback, simply go to them first.

Check in with your boss to make sure that you’re meeting their expectations, and when you’re unsure about something, ask! Most problems in the workplace can be solved with better, more frequent communication.

By staying on top of the ball and confirming that you’re performing well, you can excel at your role and avoid any unexpected, uncomfortable conversations.

Do you want to become a better communicator with your boss and your team? Join us and Thrive Together with a group of fellow admin leaders who are committed to their personal and professional development.

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