Turn that negative feedback into a positive!

By Mel Sim

Work with what you don’t have to make it into something you do…

The bad news is your boss just told you she’s not impressed with how you presented to the client today. The worst news is it’s a huge client and you think you might have tanked it.

But the good news? You can take that negative feedback and turn it into something that can lead to greater success at work… like making a great impression on the next huge client that your boss credits it all to you.

Sounds like a good idea? But first, we need to get over the negative feedback. The thing is, everyone will get a negative feedback at least once in their life so the faster you realise this, the easier it will be for you to overcome that feeling that you’ve done something wrong at work. Sure, negative feedback sucks and can be a serious blow to the ego. So much so that some people can’t stop thinking about it and this might lead to actually blowing other chances you have at succeeding at work.

Why? Because receiving negative feedback is never easy and it’s natural to get defensive or upset and feel like it is a personal attack (unless you don’t really care about your work then that’s another story). And when you get into that state, it’s hard to take your head out of the negative rut to see a different light to it.

The truth is receiving negative feedback is an opportunity for you to learn. Think about it: If your boss didn’t care about your progress at work, she won’t be bothered to give you any feedback at all, positive ones included. So take it as a good sign that your boss cares about how well you fare in your career.

Now, how do you turn that negative feedback into something that will help your career? Here are four ways to get you started:

#1 Own it
The sooner you accept the feedback as an opportunity to do better, the easier and faster it will be for you to make the necessary changes to turn it around. To do this, write down the feedback on a piece of paper (this makes it more real). Then jot down how you will resolve each negative feedback.

Take that presentation feedback as an example. So your boss said it was obvious you weren’t prepared for it. Even if you feel like you did prepare for it, maybe you should do more work and learn your subject matter better. Or maybe the feedback was that you weren’t confident with your delivery. Take a video of yourself giving a presentation and play it back. Doing this will help you realise what your audience is getting from you and make the necessary improvements (like engaging with them more or getting rid of the uhms whenever you answer questions).

#2 Treat it as an opportunity to get help from your boss
We’ve said it earlier – your boss gives you feedback because she wants you to be better. In order to make this happen, you need to be proactive and use that negative feedback as an opening to ask your boss for some guidance. Schedule in regular meetings to discuss your progress. This could also be your chance to find out what your boss is looking for in her team and work towards that.

#3 Accept the challenge
So your boss says you need to work on your presentation skills. Challenge accepted. Pick up tips online from TEDTalk speakers, read articles on confidence while presenting, take notes of how your boss presents. Then apply them each time you are presenting and with practice, you’ll get there and your boss will be pleased with the effort you’ve put in to improve yourself (trust us, she’ll notice).

#4 Prove her wrong!
Only if you’ve done 1, 2 and 3. Just because your boss says your presentation skills are not what she expected doesn’t mean you shy away from wanting to do any other presentations. Yah, it sucks to know that you’re not really good at something but that shouldn’t stop you from trying again. The keyword here is to keep doing it until you get better and to get all the help you can get to improve yourself (hence 1, 2 and 3). Continue giving presentations (big or small) so your boss can see that there’s been an improvement. Come game time, volunteer to do it so you can impress your boss and turn that negative into a positive!

Ever had a negative feedback? Share how you turned it around into something to help you get better at it.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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