Embrace the Negative


Anyone on the receiving end of negative feedback knows that it’s a blow to the ego. Although most of us say we want honest critique, what we really hope is for a “job well done” and a pat on the back. Unfortunately, constant positivity can distort your perception of your talents and, ultimately, derail your career.

“Our attempts to maintain positive self-views undermine our ability to accept negative feedback from others,” says Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. Receiving and learning from criticism is essential to developing our talents. Those who handle negative feedback with grace are more likely to succeed. So, instead of becoming defensive or deflecting blame, here are a few ways to deal with negative feedback in a positive, constructive way:

  1. Don’t become argumentative or make excuses. When your supervisor addresses performance issues, it’s easy to fixate on the negatives. Instead of taking negative feedback as a personal attack, see it as insight into how you can improve your performance and grow your career.
  2. Use this feedback as an opportunity to reflect on yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Focus on the facts presented and what steps you can take to make the necessary changes to improve.
  3. Be proactive and ask questions. Allow yourself to be open to suggestions on how to improve and make a clearly defined, measurable plan of action to get the results you want. Having less ambiguity in your plan improves your chances of succeeding.

Accepting negative feedback doesn’t always prevent people from making mistakes or occasionally underperforming. However, having an understanding of your weaknesses can help prevent career derailment when a problem surfaces and allows you the opportunity to develop skills you might have otherwise overlooked. Negative feedback isn’t pleasant, but it can make the difference between your career moving forward or stagnating.

To find out more about how negative feedback can help you, check out our ebook Embrace the Power of Negative Feedback.