Many people do not like receiving negative feedback – I am one of them. When I spend a lot of time and energy working on something like an article, a poem, a design, or a song, all I want to hear in return is “That was great, I really liked it!” I find it very hard to receive negative feedback. If someone tells me that they do not like something about my work, it feels as if they have punched me in the gut. Sometimes, I become defensive and say something like “They just don’t understand what I was trying to do”, or if I am feeling really defensive, I say “They simply don’t have good taste”.
It is only human nature to want to receive positive feedback, more so when you work on something that you are especially proud of. But the truth is that you cannot win all the time. No matter how good you are, I doubt that there is anything you will work on that will be perfect. This means that there is always room for improvement. And if you want to improve, then you must receive and, importantly, respond to negative feedback.
In trying to better receive and respond to negative feedback, I have found that there are four tips that have helped me.
- STOP BEING DEFENSIVE
The first tip is that you have to stop being defensive. If someone says something negative about your work, then the chances are that there is actually something that needs to be improved. I usually find that once I get past my defensive stage and really listen to what the person has to say, I start to see that the point they are making is valid. When people give you negative feedback, do not see it as them ‘hating’ on your work; instead, see it as an opportunity to improve.
- RECEIVE THE FEEDBACK
The second tip is that you need to receive the feedback. Really listen to what the person has said. Can you see why their feedback was negative? Why was their reaction different from what you were expecting? What specific parts of your work did they have issues with? Read each line with an aim to understand the person’s point of view – the more detail the person goes into, the better for you. If you try to get into their mind, then you are more likely to understand and receive their feedback well.
- ASK FURTHER QUESTIONS
The third tip is to ask further questions. If the person’s feedback is vague in some areas, then go on and ask them what exactly they meant. It is possible that you might have misinterpreted something they said, which might hinder you from understanding their point. Do not make assumptions – when in doubt, always ask for further explanation. Doing this will help you see how valid their point is, which will help you in the next stage.
- INCORPORATE THE FEEDBACK INTO YOUR WORK
The fourth tip is to incorporate the feedback into your work. It is not enough to just understand the person’s point – you must also incorporate this into your work. Go back to what you have done and see where you fell short of the person’s expectations. If you have the opportunity to produce another draft of the work, then do so. If not, use that feedback to make your next project better. The important thing is to actually use the feedback in a constructive way.
- THANK THE PERSON FOR THEIR FEEDBACK
The final tip is to thank the person for their feedback. Even if the person did not necessarily give you the feedback with the aim of helping you improve, let them know the impact that their feedback has had, and how you have used it to improve your work. Doing so shows the strength of character and willingness to learn, which is likely to impress the person who gave you the feedback (bonus points for you!).
At the end of the day, not everyone is going to like your work – you simply cannot please everyone. But if you are able to receive and respond effectively to negative feedback, then you are likely to appeal to a majority of people. So the next time you hear something negative about your work, please do not feel discouraged! Instead, stop being defensive, receive the feedback, ask further questions if need be, incorporate the feedback into your work, and thank the person for their feedback. If you are able to do this consistently, then I guarantee that you will end up improving the overall quality of your work.
Thank you for reading this. I believe you find this article helpful. I’d love the get your feedback on this in the comment below.
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