There is a lot of theory about how to ask for and give feedback. But do we know how to react in a difficult conversation when we have to respond to negative feedback?
👂 Listen and don’t rush to react
Try to listen objectively and don’t interrupt the other person. You will understand their point of view more accurately when you are not arguing with them or trying to defend yourself. The key is to listen to the other person without planning our reply.
Listen to the feedback with the attitude that you can learn something new that will develop you.
💡 Understand the message
Validate what you understand by repeating key points so that you know you have interpreted the feedback correctly. Ask questions for clarification if necessary. For example: “I’m not totally sure that I understand what you’re saying. Do I have it right that you think . . .”
🗣 Be aware of your responses
Pay attention to your tone of voice and body language. They also transmit a lot of information. Don’t show that you are bored or angry. Watch the other person and be friendly. Speak directly but not to be rude or emotional.
⚖️ Decide what to do
Assess the value of the feedback, the consequences of using it or ignoring it, and then decide what to do because of it. Your response is your choice. If you disagree with the feedback, consider asking for a second opinion from someone else.
According to Adam Grant (an organizational psychologist), it’s important to consider these details, too:
❗️Evaluate the source – tries to give a context-specific assessment to evaluate if the person providing the feedback is believable on the issue. Is this a credible person in general and on this issue?
❗️What is the source’s motive? – why is this person telling me this?
⏭ Follow up
Sometimes, your follow-up will simply involve implementing the suggestions given to you. In other situations, you might want to set up another meeting to discuss the feedback or to re-submit the revised work.
It often happens that it is difficult for us to deal with our emotions at the moment, caused by negative feedback and criticism. So we can ask the person to talk again on another day. A useful approach is to just tell them that we are not in the right emotional state right now, but what they told us is important to us and we want to talk again tomorrow.
Remember that we are all humans who make mistakes. This is a part of life. Learn from your mistakes and move on.