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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article12 November 2019European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

How to handle negative feedback in the workplace

It’s never easy to receive criticism at work, even if it’s constructive. However, while it might be hard to hear, criticism will ultimately help you to improve. Here are our top tips for dealing with criticism at work in a positive way.

How to handle negative feedback in the workplace
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Don’t let your emotions get the better of you

Whether it comes from your boss, a colleague, a client or someone else, dealing with negative feedback can be challenging. Your initial reaction is unlikely to be the most rational response, particularly if the feedback is unexpected. It’s important to give yourself time to calm down, assess the situation and think before reacting. Don’t take negative comments in the workplace personally; they are just a critique of your work and rarely a reflection of you as a person.

Listen and engage

Even if you don’t necessarily agree with their comments, constructive feedback is a good way to find out how others see your actions at work and can help you to better meet expectations. It’s important to listen to what your boss, colleague or client has to say and engage with them in a positive way. Allow the person to share their assessment of the situation without interrupting them. When they’re finished, repeat back what you understood. If there’s something you’re not sure about, ask for more explanation without debating or arguing your point of view.

Take it on board

Learn how to deconstruct criticism and decide what you want to take away from it. If the feedback is delivered verbally, it’s a good idea to keep a note of what was said in case you want to go back to it. Consider what your next steps might be in order to avoid receiving the same feedback again in the future. For example, you might want to make a list of points for improvement so that you can track your progress. For more serious matters, or if the feedback has come from your boss, you may want to arrange a follow-up meeting to reflect on how you have dealt with their feedback.

Be gracious

It’s highly likely that the person has good intentions and is trying to help you by giving feedback. Thank the person for their feedback – acknowledge the effort they have gone to and tell them that you appreciate their honesty. By reacting positively and being receptive to constructive feedback, you’re demonstrating that you’re a professional and resilient employee, and your boss, colleague or client is likely to respect you more for that.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s not worth continuing to blame yourself for a mistake you made or a situation you could have handled better. Remember that nobody is perfect. While it’s important to be aware of your weaknesses, don’t lose sight of your strengths and achievements. Be proud of what you do well, and try not to dwell too much on your mistakes or let them have a negative impact on your confidence. Once you’ve given the feedback enough consideration and reflected on how you might tackle the situation differently the next time, it’s time to move on.

We hope these tips will help you to handle negative feedback in workplace positively and reach your full professional potential!

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