Decide How You’ll React to Negative Feedback

When criticism arrives unexpectedly, remembering how you should react to it is tricky. Getting caught up in the heat of the moment can overwhelm our best intentions. Think through the reaction you want to have now, so that you’ll be ready when the time comes:

  1. Listen carefully to what’s being said. Is the criticism of you fact or opinion? And is it accurate? What’s the intent and motive of the person giving you feedback?
  2. Don’t get defensive. Even when your criticizer is factually wrong, saying so isn’t helpful. Listen to what the person is saying, then ask questions to make sure you understand it.
  3. Ask for time to consider what’s been said. Doing so defuses the immediate situation, shows the person you consider the feedback important enough to be considered carefully, and gives you a chance to decide whether the criticism is true.

Adapted from “How to Handle Negative Feedback,” by Dick Grote.

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