How to Respond to Negative Feedback

Good managers give tough feedback.  The issue is on the side of the receipient and the question is simple enough.  "How will I respond when I get feedback that hurts or at the very least, surprises me?"  

There are any number of responses, including but not limited to the following:


  • "Fine!  I didn't like working here anyways..."
  • "You're wrong.  I am doing a perfectly fine job in my role at work."
  • "Are you serious?  Do you know how much the next guy screws up?"
  • "I thought Facebook was the company email system..."
  • "You're criticizing me for that?  Seriously?"


And there's my absolute favorite response from the employee to the boss, "You are an idiot!"  I'd like to see the backside of that staffer as the door hits him squarely in the pants as he just got his firing papers.  (ok, I wouldn't really want to see his backside but you get the picture)

Author Steven Pressfield (remember The Legend of Bagger Vance?) calls the force in us that brustles when we get negative feedback The Resistance.  The Resistance is that small (and sometimes loud) voice that wants to pack up our toys and head home when the going gets tough.  It's that desire to get defensive and pout.  The Resistance tries to tear down all of your work maturity and success and tell you that the grass is greener on the other side.  

Great leaders learn to harness The Resistance.  They wrestle with it and one day they lose to it and another they triumph over it.  The key is that they keep trying and never quit.  

They then channel The Resistance into a positive direction.  My advice is simple- when you get tough feedback from your boss, don't obsess about it.  Do something positive with it and work your tail off to correct it.  Your boss isn't an idiot and you don't know what he knows.  Deal with it. Learn from it.  Grow as a result of it.  

Spiritually speaking, tough feedback is a great opportunity for prayer.  It helps you be more humble.  Feedback allows you to journal more often in order to understand it better.  Most importantly, any opportunity to become a better person is a step closer to God and His plan for your working life.  

How did you last respond to negative feedback?  Are you prepared for it to show up again in the near future?


*Photo courtesy of EM