8 things to keep in mind while receiving ‘negative’ feedback

In the previous article, we read about things to keep in mind while delivering negative feedback. If a trainer knows how to ‘dish it out’, he/she must also be ready to ‘get dished’. Negative feedback is part of every trainer’s job role. Besides the obvious criticism, it helps the trainer keep his/her foot firmly on the ground. How does it feel like to receive negative feedback from trainees and/or higher-ups? Let us now delve into the 8 things to keep in mind while receiving ‘negative’ feedback.


  1. Receive feedback only when you are ready. Make sure you receive your feedback scores only when you are ready. It doesn’t make sense to receive negative feedback when you are in a vulnerable state of mind. So, hold the scores, fix a time and be mentally prepared. In case of receiving feedback from a higher-up, make sure to book an appointment as it gives you time to prepare yourself.


  1. Listen carefully. When you are in a discussion about your performance (feedback), make sure you listen to every point that is being made. You may not agree with all the points but it is your duty to listen to all the speaker has to say. The next step is to mentally differentiate points into facts and opinions as the speaker is most likely to mix the two in the discussion.


  1. Perception doesn’t matter. Sometimes employees complain of harsh treatment while receiving negative feedback – “it wasn’t what he said, it was the way he said it”, is one of the most common dialogues in this context. However, the way you receive the message is not important here; the message itself is. Make sure you concentrate on what is being said rather than how it is being said.


  1. Don’t get defensive. When a person is providing negative feedback, saying, “You’re wrong”, will never help, even if the person is indeed wrong. Do not listen just to point out the person’s errors or spot distortions. Make sure you listen to everything that the person has to say and then analyze it, interpret it and respond accordingly.


  1. Do not plan your reply. The key is to listen to the other person without planning a reply. Nod your head until the person is done and make sure not to show any emotion.


  1. Ask questions. Asking questions will help ease the tension in the room. It will also eliminate the appearance of defensiveness.


  1. Take your time. Once the negative feedback is delivered, ask the person for time to consider the feedback. This not only diffuses the immediate situation, but also shows that you consider the person’s feedback important enough to think and analyze the scenario in a calm fashion. Saying “I appreciate your feedback and will go through it carefully before I get back to you”, will demonstrate your seriousness.


  1. Apologize. Even though it may not be your fault, always apologize. There must be a reason why the person giving you negative feedback is doing what he/she is doing. Hence, respect the person and make sure you apologize. However, never over-apologize. Remember that negative feedback and criticism are a fact of life.


Negative feedback can be tough to deal with sometimes. Everybody prefers compliments over criticism as compliments mean that you are doing something right whereas criticism means that you are going wrong somewhere. The most important thing to remember is to not avoid negative feedback but to accept it and to learn to deal with it in order to grow as an individual.


  • Naresh Mulkunte

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