Dealing with Negative Feedback
There are some things I like to pretend don’t bother me – negative feedback is one of them. It’s never been fun or easy for me to receive criticism. I like people to like me and value my work. And no matter how hard I try to pump myself up – getting negative feedback, especially about my work is hard. And yet I KNOW that I need it and that it’s good for me. I’ve never grown being comfortable. Growth comes for me when I get uncomfortable and I get honest with myself. It’s so easy in life and in business to let our ego get in the way – yet that doesn’t serve me or my business.
Some Ways to Deal With Negative Feedback:
Step back and BREATHE. Before I react I force myself to stop and breathe. I received a nasty email some time back and I had to force myself to get up and walk away from the computer. I so wanted to respond and immediately defend myself. But that little voice inside said STOP: practice restraint of tongue and pen. I’m glad I listened and calmed down. After I took a breath I realized it was nothing I needed to respond to. And I choose to let it go.
Consider the source. Not all feedback is good feedback. When I worked in high schools as a motivational speaker I used to get some of the craziest evaluations – I still do teaching college. Most of the feedback was not useful and it was not necessarily about me. I value what my clients say and what the overall feedback is. There will always be super critical and super positive comments – beware of those. Trust those in the majority and those who have the experience to give you feedback.
Decide if it’s useful. Not all feedback is useful. People may comment on things that I have no control over or things that I don’t care to change. And sometimes people give feedback about something that they don’t fully understand. Step back when getting feedback and ask yourself if it’s useful, is there something you need to do with it and then either let it go or make some changes.
Change what you can. I take feedback seriously when I know that it’s true. I will look at it, talk it over with my mentors and make a plan to change it. I want to keep growing. I want to get better each and every time I teach, speak or consult. In order to to that I must listen to the things that matter and CHANGE the things I’m capable of changing.
Accept your humanness. I have to accept over and over again the fact that I will never be perfect. No matter how hard I work, I will make mistakes. I will say or do the wrong thing – that’s life. Years ago a friend of mine told me that done is better than perfect. The days I’m too hard on myself or I’m taking feedback way too seriously – I pause and try to remember that when I take action and get things done I’m moving forward and that I will not be perfect.
Don’t take it so personally. It’s NOT all about you. Take the emotions out of it. Set your feelings aside and just look at it as an outside observer.
Laugh at yourself. There are times when I get feedback and all I can do is laugh. Often the things I do that people will comment on are either so ridiculous or so not what I meant that all I can do is laugh. Being able to laugh at myself helps keep me from sinking into negativity.
As you take feedback from others – remember to take what you need and leave the rest.