How To Handle Feedback

An important skill for achieving success in life is learning how to respond to feedback from the people around you. When you master this skill you’ll have the power to improve almost every aspect of your life.

There are three different types of feedback:

(1) Positive feedback

(2) Constructive negative feedback

(3) Destructive negative feedback

How To Handle Positive Feedback

Positive feedback is a gift and it should be acknowledged and appreciated like any other gift. Surprisingly, many people dismiss positive feedback with off hand comments. Do any of these examples sound familiar to you?

Feedback: “You look beautiful tonight”
Response: “No I don’t, I just look the same as always”

Feedback: “You did a great job on that report”
Response: “Oh, it was nothing”

Feedback: “I love your necklace!”
Response: “It’s not real, its a fake”

Making dismissive comments like this in response to positive feedback is the equivalent of being handed a gift and tossing it over your shoulder without even opening it.

A much better way to respond to positive feedback is to simply make eye contact, smile, and say, “Thank-you”. By doing this you will acknowledge and enjoy the gift of positive feedback.

How To Handle Constructive Negative Feedback

Believe it or not, this is the most beneficial type of feedback of all. While positive feedback can help you feel better, constructive negative feedback can help you get better.

Many people get defensive when someone gives them constructive negative feedback. They say things like, “What would she know!” or alternatively, they try and justify themselves and prove the other person wrong.

A much better way to respond to constructive negative feedback is to thank the person for taking the time to provide you with feedback and then ask yourself:

How can I use this feedback to improve?

For example if you own a business and a customer complains about something, instead of trying to prove the customer wrong, thank them for the feedback and take the opportunity to improve your business so that the complaint does not impact another customer in the future.

When you use negative feedback in this way, it becomes a powerful tool for improving your business, your work environment and your relationships.

How To Handle Desctructive Negative Feedback

Destructive negative feedback is negative energy that is meant to cause pain rather than help you to improve. The important thing to understand about destructive feedback is that it is often a way for someone to lash out at the world around them.

In many cases it has very little to do with you and everything to do with the way that person is feeling about themselves and their own problems.

The best way to deal with destructive negative feedback is to recognise it for what it is and just let it go without taking it to heart.

Unfortunately many people have their ‘feedback model’ back-to-front. They dismiss positive feedback, fight constructive negative feedback and dwell on destructive negative feedback.

If instead, you can learn to accept and enjoy positive feedback, use constructive negative feedback to constantly improve and avoid destructive negative feedback, you will greatly accelerate your progress to success.

Action Steps

1. Learn to recognise and distinguish between the three types of feedback.

2. When you receive positive feedback, accept and enjoy it as a gift. Simply make eye contact, smile and say thank-you.

3. When you receive constructive negative feedback say, “Thanks for the feedback” and use it to improve.

4. When you receive destructive negative feedback, recognise that it is the act of someone lashing out and don’t take it to heart.

2 thoughts on “How To Handle Feedback

  1. Pingback: Leadership Thought #312 – Encourage Honest Feedback « Ed Robinson's Blog

  2. Pingback: Leadership Thought #320 – People Only Make You Feel Small If You Let Them « Ed Robinson's Blog

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