Updated: Apr 20
In the workplace, there are few words that make your heart skip a beat like the words “constructive feedback.” Some people can deal with taking criticism well and some struggle with it, but either way, it is still highly important for improvement.
Whether it comes from the new boss who’s trying to prove himself or that one coworker that never quite seems to have anything nice to say, feedback is something we all have to deal with. It might be a simple passing comment like “get it done faster next time” or an official employee review from your boss, but no matter the form, it can still sting.
Often times, our first reaction to any form of constructive feedback will be negative. Despite the long-term benefits of feedback, we will feel angry, hurt, sad. While it’s fine to feel the negative emotions that come along with feedback, we need to understand the why behind the emotions and how we deal with it. Understanding why we feel those emotions can be just as beneficial as the feedback itself. For some, we may feel hurt when something that we worked countless hours on doesn’t get the reaction we wanted. For others, it may be a fear of failure or disdain for the person giving the feedback. Once you understand the why, you need to work on the what.
Once the first emotions have passed, it’s up to you to decide what you are going to do to deal with your emotions. The worst thing to do would be to let your emotions control you. If you reacted with anger, it would be retaliating that anger on your coworkers and creating a hostile work environment. If you reacted with pain over being criticized, the worst possible way your emotions could control you would be shutting down.
If you allow yourself to wallow in your pain, your work performance will suffer. As with each negative, there is a positive. Each time you feel those emotions, you learn how to deal with them better. You’ll gain more control each time you feel them, and this will lead to your reactions to criticism becoming minimal. After controlling what you do, you should plan on how you are going to fix it.
There’s a reason you get feedback, it’s to help you improve. However, it only works if you know how to use it. By listening to the feedback you get, you are learning how to do better in the future. Getting feedback only works if you use it correctly, otherwise it can lead to tension in the workplace, which only creates more problems. Any critiques you get will only work as much as you are willing. If you are stubborn and refuse to listen to them, it may feel like it’s you against your coworker, but it’s much more than that. If you continue on the same path, it creates a toxic workplace environment for your entire team. But, if you try harder next time, you’ll create a better enviroment for the whole workplace.
Next time you get feedback, whether you like it or not, try to remember the Why, What and How. Any job will have its moment of give-and-take and often those “give” moments have to do with getting feedback you may not like. Next time you get unwanted advice, instead of reacting with anger, ask them “What can I do better next time?” You’ll be surprised how far it takes you.