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The Right Way to Respond to Negative Feedback

As a manager or business leader, receiving feedback from your employees is critical. Receiving performance feedback will let you know how you're doing and what you can do better.
Some managers may seek primarily positive feedback. But, negative feedback can also be valuable because it allows you to track your progress and alerts you to significant changes you need to make.
Feedback is a crucial factor in your success and an excellent tool for developing leadership skills. Receiving feedback can be unsettling — specifically if it is negative. How leaders respond to feedback can make or break their careers.
This article will go over the following:
  • Why should you deal with negative feedback
  • How to professionally respond to negative feedback
  • How to use negative feedback to improve your performance

Why Should You Respond to Negative Feedback

People who don't care rarely take the time to provide feedback. So if someone on your team has taken the time to provide helpful feedback, whether positive or negative, it shows that they are genuinely interested, engaged, motivated, and inspired at work.
Receiving negative feedback is preferable to none at all. When your staff members don't offer any feedback, it's a sign that they don't care about what happens to the business, and you should start to get concerned.
A great team is built on trust and collaboration. Responding to feedback demonstrates that you respect the other person's viewpoint and value their contribution. Therefore, you don't want to pass up this chance to develop relationships.

How to Respond to Negative Feedback

Listen and Take Time to React

When dealing with negative feedback, actively listen before engaging in conversation. To interact in a positive discussion, you must ensure that you fully understand what is being said.
Typically, when people receive negative feedback, they react immediately and become defensive without understanding the entire context of the comment.
It can be challenging to understand another person's point of view. But, you can better understand the situation if you take the time to refocus your energy on the bigger picture.
Be an active listener and let the comments sink in before responding. Take a few seconds to focus on your essential characteristic besides the one being criticized.
This method can reduce your physical reaction to threats and helps you to be more open to constructive criticism.

Don't Take Negative Feedback Personally

It's only natural to give negative comments more weight than positive feedback, especially if the former is interpreted as a personal attack.
If you received negative feedback, reflect on what the comment is trying to make you realize. Even if the language is a little harsh, think of the criticism as sincere advice from people who care about the company.
It would be best if you valued coworkers who offer their support to enhance productivity, performance, and the work environment from their point of view.

Appreciate the Feedback

Be grateful to the other person for their honest feedback. Whether negative or positive feedback, it is essential to say thank you.
Be sincere and self-assured in your communication. Even if the comments they gave you were negative, let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to provide you with specifics.
It shows professionalism to thank your colleague or manager for evaluating your work and giving feedback, even if you disagree with the results.
If you respond defensively to their criticism or argue with them, they might feel less inclined to offer you constructive feedback, which could impact your career development.

Apologize As Necessary

You must offer a sincere apology in response to negative comments as needed.
If someone has taken the initiative to meet with you and voice their concerns, or if a client has left poor comments or review that harms the business, you must respond to this negative feedback with a genuine apology.
When you accept responsibility and offer a genuine apology, you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal customer or brand advocate who is willing to post a favorable review or provide positive feedback in the future.
If you received a negative comment from your manager, it is equally important to apologize if you believe you are at fault. Being accountable for your lapses establishes trust and builds dependability.
Accountability entails taking responsibility for the outcomes. It demonstrates your ability to handle criticism and your expertise.

Ask Questions and Summarize

When someone makes a negative comment, responding with a question demonstrates your interest in them and prevents you from reacting emotionally.
It reveals that you want to look for potential solutions. Also, it aids you in fully comprehending and evaluating the issue.
It's vital to pose the appropriate questions to assess the message, such as:
  • Can you back up your comments? Give specific examples.
  • Since when has this been happening?
  • What effects does it have on the organization?
  • What suggestions do you have for this issue?
Once you have the essential details necessary, you may begin to summarize.
Summarizing is crucial for effective communication. To ensure without fail that everyone is on the same page, it is best to summarize all the comments that you received.
It ensures that the highlights and action items have been identified and are ready when it's time for you to take action. By making this approach, communication will be more effective.

Take Action

You can use any negative feedback you receive as a teaching opportunity that will ultimately lead to positive feedback.
An excellent way to maintain accountability and stay on track is to develop a plan that takes the feedback you want to work on into account.

Build Feedback Loops

You may consider the feedback loops when planning your improvements. A feedback loop is formed when colleagues consistently provide feedback on:
  • Strengthen company performance
  • Achieve group objectives
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Improving employee satisfaction
A feedback loop is a process of using a system's outputs as inputs.
In business, it describes the company's process to improve a service or product by using employee or customer feedback.
Significant issues with a product or company are brought to light using negative and positive feedback loops. These feedback loops use employee or customer complaints to develop workplace or product improvements.

Negative Feedback Loop VS. Positive Feedback Loop

Your company's long-term success depends on having feedback loops. The difference between the two kinds of feedback loops is shown below.

Negative Feedback Loop

  • Negative feedback loops hear customers' complaints or grievances.
  • A business uses that information to enhance its goods or customer service.
  • Customers feel valued by the company and are more likely to become loyal to the brand.

Positive Feedback Loop

  • Positive feedback loops hear the complaints or grievances of its employees.
  • Business uses that feedback to enhance internal operations and employee satisfaction.
  • The company can then boost revenue due to an increase in workplace satisfaction.
Positive and negative feedback loops are regarded as a loop because a circle is formed when an output, like feedback, is used as a helpful input to improve the business.
A positive feedback loop focuses on employee input to improve the workplace, whereas a negative feedback loop focuses on customer input to improve the product.
Positive and negative feedback loops are both critical in a business. Having engaged and effective staff is just as advantageous and vital for your business as having satisfied customers.
Get more ideas about effective action plans by downloading our free resource.

Show People You Value Their Opinions

A great leader values everyone's opinions. Taking the time to respond respectfully to feedback demonstrates that you care and appreciate your colleagues' ideas and opinions.
Whatever feedback you receive, always respond with compassion and understanding. Always remind yourself that all feedback benefits your development as a leader.

Do Not Dwell on Negative Feedback

It can be tempting to replay the conversation repeatedly in your head. You may regret every word you say and wish you said something better.
It only detracts from the lesson the experience might have taught you. You'll probably have more than one of these experiences throughout your career. Move on from the negative feedback after giving it the time it requires.

Lead As an Example

As a manager and business leader, you must set a good example. If you want your employees to take criticism constructively to make positive changes, you should not be defensive when it comes back to you.
When you receive negative feedback about how you supervise them, you should be prepared to explain why you disagree so they understand your logic in how you lead.
You ought to also model change for them. A crucial skill that all leaders need is the ability to lead through change.
Influential leaders set the bar for how to proceed by modeling a positive and professional response to change.
Improve your leadership skills by listening to our podcasts.

How to Change Your Attitude Toward Negative Feedback

While you may not enjoy receiving criticism, the assertions usually contain some truth. Try these suggestions for refocusing your perception of negative feedback:

Consider your colleagues and employees as your best critic.

Think of the feedback as a favor explicitly done for you. That person was interested in you enough to take the time to assist you in growing and improving in your chosen field.
After all, to advance in your position, you must first understand where you can improve. If someone does not care, people will only notice your mistakes but say nothing.

Know yourself.

It is natural for you to get defensive. Negative feedback and critical comments can cause genuine hurt.
Allow yourself some time to get over it. Reflect on why the comments appear to be too painful for you.
It could be a flashback to another moment in your life when something similar hurt you. Understanding yourself is an essential factor in moving on.

Listen to your critics.

Pay close attention to the spoken words. Do not use the time the other person is talking to prepare your response mentally.
Instead, keep in mind that active listening entails paying attention and processing. Listening would help address the issues and concerns of the person giving feedback.

Embrace negative feedback.

Learn to view positive and negative feedback as equals rather than opposites. Both present a chance to develop, even though one feels much better to receive than the other.
While negative feedback teaches by discouraging a behavior, positive criticism aids in your development by encouraging a particular behavior. In general, any input is preferable to receiving none at all.

Learn from your experience.

While listening to critical feedback, you might feel you are losing credibility or confidence. Do not lose focus on your goals; keep the lesson in mind. Every experience, even the bad ones, can teach you something.
Take note of their words and the tone of voice when listening to someone skilled at giving constructive criticism.
Nonverbal cues and body language can also help you when it's your turn to give the critique. This process can teach you things about yourself as well.


Improvement can result from negative criticism. If there is any value in the feedback, it should result in positive change.
Leaders who recognize the value of regular, transparent communication develop a feedback mechanism. These businesses invest resources in creating a culture where staff members can adequately give and receive feedback.
You cannot build a feedback culture overnight. Taking criticism at work requires training and practice, but providing positive feedback also involves skill. A feedback culture understands the value of each.
You won't be successful, and you won't prioritize growth if you don't fully embrace your new journey. You will be able to respond to negative comments and have an impact as soon as you're prepared to act.
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© 2023 B2B Leaders Academy. All Rights Reserved.