The Secret to Dealing with Negative Feedback

All the jobs I’ve had, companies I’ve worked for, bosses I’ve reported into, and I realized that I have received varying levels of feedback. In some instances I received consistent feedback, but it was only once per year – that’s too far apart. And then in other situations, where it was more frequent, most of the time it was me soliciting the feedback.

You need consistent and frequent feedback.

If you want to grow, you want to improve, you want to get to that next level, you’ve got to get that feedback.  

Now, the positive feedback is fantastic. It gives you a little bit of a confidence boost, it reaffirms you’re on the right path, it feels good; we all need that.

But what you need even more is the negative feedback. And the negative feedback, I know it can just totally suck; it’s like calling out the things that you did wrong, where the gaps are. But that’s what you need to know in order to grow. You can’t go to the next place if you don’t know what that gap is, what’s missing, where the opportunities for you are. So, receiving the negative feedback is never any fun.  

In fact, at the end of speaking at a particular event, I left there feeling amazing. Later that afternoon, I received the full comments back from the attendees. Most of the comments were positive; it gave me that, again, affirmation that I’m on the right track, it was great. But there were those couple of comments that were like a full punch to the gut. There in black and white it might as well have said, you suck, you should quit. It was awful! I felt awful, but I needed to hear that. So what’s the secret to dealing with negative feedback?

Okay, before I give you the secret, you have to promise me that you will only do these things behind closed doors.

If you’re receiving feedback live from someone, you can’t do any of what I’m about to tell you until you’re behind closed doors. Deal? Okay!

When you’re behind closed doors, I want you to feel like shit! I am giving you permission to just feel awful.

If that means negative self-talk, if it means that you’re feeling, “I need to quit my job, I can’t do this, what was I thinking?” Go through all of those feelings and emotions, I am giving you permission to do that.

But, you can not live there; you have an expiration date on that permission!

And that expiration date is one day later – 24 hours, that’s it. You will be done feeling that way.

And within that 24 hours of feeling awful and going through all of those emotions, the other thing that you can not do is make any decisions. You can say to yourself, “I need to quit,” but you cannot write an e-mail, make a phone call, draft a text – nothing. No decisions can be made.  

Once you get past this 24 hours and you get all of the emotions out and you commit to not making any major decisions and you give yourself that expiration date and you’re starting to feel better, then go back and re-evaluate the feedback. Take what you know you can apply, and maybe some of the other pieces aren’t things you’re going to choose right now, or maybe not ever, but take what you like and leave the rest.

So that’s the deal. Seek out negative feedback and then deal with it, but deal with it in a responsible and emotional way to help you get through it.  

All right, do you have a tip for us? I’d love to know how you deal with negative feedback, or if you think my process is just absolutely crazy! Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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