How to deal with negative feedback


At some point in your creative career you will be the giver or receiver of negative feedback. Understanding the science behind how your brain deals with it, can make the difference between whether you take the feedback as a negative or positive experience.

We all need feedback. If we never receive any, we never know what we need to do to improve or move forward with our work and career.

Over the course of my career I have been on the receiving end of negative feedback, and I have had to give it to my employees as well. There is an art to receiving and giving feedback which is what I talk about in this week’s podcast.

Understanding the science behind how your brain works, I believe can empower you. If you know that scientifically you are likely to respond in a certain way, you can prepare for that and work twice as hard to counteract the effects.

When negative feedback is delivered brilliantly, it can become a positive and growing experience. We need to hear how we have been doing and this can help.

There may be a time that you have to deliver negative feedback yourself, and understanding how it will be received can help you to deliver it in the best way possible. Here are some tips to help you do that:

Delivering negative feedback

  1. Remember that it is a two way conversation. Make sure you are open to hearing the other person’s opinion, rather than dictating to them.
  2. Deliver the negative feedback first. (The podcast explains why).
  3. Follow the negative feedback with a positive piece of feedback. The recipient’s brain will remember the positive & negative if you do it in this order.
  4. Allow the other person to response to what you have said and give detailed ideas about what they can do to improve.
  5. Avoid using statements like: “Your work is no good” or “We are not happy with your progress”, as these are dead end statements and don’t give the recipient any information on how they can fix it.
  6. Give them a time frame of when you will review the situation.

Negative feedback doesn’t have to be negatively received if you follow the guidelines above.

My challenge for you this week is to think back to the last time you received negative feedback. What two positive things can you remember about the experience? If you are struggling with that, think about what you learnt from the experience instead. 

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.