In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:
- Why negative feedback is just as valuable as positive feedback
- How to receive negative feedback without taking it personally
- How to ensure you hear the feedback you need
- Ways to get more out of negative feedback and continue the conversation
- How to turn negative feedback into a glowing review
Last week we were discussing how you could use positive feedback to improve your work (whether that’s your business or yourself as a professional) and how to create tangible business assets from the feedback you get. This week I want to share how you can use less than stellar feedback to build relationships, grow in your business and skills, and perhaps create even stronger business assets (really!).
These two episodes are a great introduction into the ways that you can put feedback to good use in your business or practice, but if you’d like to go deeper, we get into this with lots of specific strategies and tactics in Modules 1 and 6 of The Branding Rx Course – be sure to check that out!
The first thing to remember is that no matter what kind of feedback you’re receiving, the person providing it is taking their time to tell you how they feel. Whether they intend to help you improve, or they’re sharing their disappointment with their own experience in mind, either way they’re invested in the conversation. They’re taking time and effort to share information and perspective, and this is a gift – so, remember to make them feel heard.
All feedback is useful, whether you agree with it or not. Every bit of feedback can be used in different ways. It’s your job to keep track of the feedback you’re provided, think about it, and determine how to make it useful right now.
Always remember to ask additional questions. Many times the issue with feedback is that it’s too general. Asking clarifying questions gives you a better chance to turn negative feedback into something actionable.
I’m not saying that you should incorporate every bit of feedback that you’re given. Instead, this episode will help you preserve relationships, ensure an enduring stream of feedback in the future, and determine which pieces of advice would actually help move you, your brand, or your business forward.
Listen in to learn all four of my tips for taking negative feedback into something that is good for you professionally.
“Feedback is always an opportunity for growth. It’s a way to see our own blind spots. It’s a way to understand if we’re coming across in a way that we don’t intend, which matters, of course, because that hinders our effectiveness.” – Marjorie Stiegler
In this Episode:
[00:43] This week we’re continuing the conversation about feedback by discussing the negative side.
[02:55] Learn the first of four things you should do when you receive less than stellar feedback.
[04:28] What should you do next?
[06:14] Why you should express appreciation for the feedback.
[07:57] The last step that you need to help strengthen relationships and give you a chance for reflection.
[10:12] There is potentially value in just about any feedback.
[11:57] One quick bonus thought.
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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 39: The Best Way to Handle Bad Feedback
Hey there, welcome to the Career Prescription. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe. And of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website.
Are you ready? Let’s get into it.
Hey, there, welcome back. Today, we’re going to be talking again about feedback. And specifically, the kind of feedback you don’t like.
Last week’s episode was all about how to get the right kind of feedback, depending upon the situation, right? Realizing that there are different kinds of feedback, and learning how to turn what I like to call, you know, feel good feedback into something that’s much more actionable, so that we can enjoy a compliment, but we can also turn it into a tangible business asset.
We talked about that last week. And there’s a much deeper dive on this, and modules, one and six of the Branding Prescription course, for those who want to learn more about how to take feedback and turn it into an actual business or career asset.
But this week, we’re going to be talking about feedback that does not feel good, and how we can still make the most of this feedback, what’s the best way to handle it?
And also, before we get into that, what you should do, I guess. It’s important to think about, you know, the variety of reasons why you should care. You know, why do we need to make the most of bad feedback? Couldn’t we just block it out? There’s a variety of reasons to take some of these steps that I’m going to be getting into, and to adopt them.
One is, of course, that feedback is always an opportunity for growth, it’s a way to see our own blind spots, it’s a way to understand if we’re coming across in a way that we don’t intend, which matters, of course, because that hinders our effectiveness. Also, it’s important to maintain relationships. So preserving or developing relationships is a really key part of receiving feedback. So whether it’s your boss, your colleague, a patient, a customer, even a mentor, or student, there’s many good reasons to keep those relationships strong, or to strengthen them, if the feedback is maybe even your initial encounter with this person. And if it’s not so good, we can turn that friction into something very, very favorable, that you’ll benefit from.
So that’s just a quick list of the variety of reasons that you really should be motivated to want to make the most of your negative feedback. So here are four things to do when you get feedback that isn’t really all that glowing.
The first is, you’ve got to understand that your purpose in that moment is not to agree or disagree, or to defend. And simply try to suspend judgment of what you’re hearing, suspend the urge to get defensive and block it out. And really do your best to listen. And this can often be done just by memorizing a few simple things to say that will help you get more information from that person. It’s also really important to stay open minded and curious if you’re going to be learning and understanding and that’s hard to do.
So it may be a good time to remind yourself that this is just one person. They’re making just one observation, they’re probably observing just one skill or domain or experience. So even if the feedback is completely terrible, and even if it’s entirely true, it’s not the end of the world. So if it helps you just remember that you know even if you’re bad at this one thing, you’re not bad at everything. Or even if you are, you know not delivering for this one person, other people might have a different opinion or reaction to the same thing, also doesn’t mean that you’ll never improve. So if you’ve got that growth mindset, so whatever, from these things I just mentioned that you need to do to keep yourself open to the experience of receiving that feedback is super important.
Remember, in that moment, you don’t need to agree, you don’t need to disagree, you don’t need to defend. You need to stay in the moment, listen and get as much information as you can. So that is the most important tip number one to do when you’re getting feedback that’s not all that good.
The second thing to do is to ask somebody after they have already, you know, given you the feedback, ask them what their advice is. So when they finish telling you what they’re going to tell you, then you say, “Okay, so what’s your advice?” In this way, you’re asking someone to help you understand what they suggest you do with the feedback.
This is really important because usually there’s a disconnect between their sort of observations or their interpretations of what you did, and what they think would actually be a successful outcome that would be different. So if they haven’t already articulated that what they think you should specifically do differently in the future, ask them.
Importantly for you to know, I’m not suggesting this so that you go follow their advice to go do that thing. I’m suggesting you use this as a tool to help understand the feedback better, because many people who give feedback are just frankly, too vague. And what they, what they really mean is not what we hear. It’s not what we think they mean. So if we can articulate what we think they mean, and we can ask them if that’s right, that’s another technique, or we can ask them to say what they think we should do differently.
You can ask for a more specific example. You might even articulate what your intent was, you know, I was hoping to do XYZ, can you help me with what I could do differently to achieve that goal better. And again, you may or may not want to take this feedback plus advice. But the advice component is often very revealing. It can help you to understand what people really meant, when they gave the advice and what it would look like to them, if you had done it in a way that they would view favorably. This is very often not what you are imagining at the time that you’re having these conversations. So is very, very instructive. Try it. All right.
The third thing you should do, I think, is express appreciation, you should say to them, thanks for the feedback, I’m going to write it down. I think this is an important thing. This is advice someone else gave me. And I’ll be honest, and say I don’t remember who gave me this great advice.
Thanks for the feedback, I’m going to write it down.
It’s very, very simple. It’s very, very good. And it achieves a couple of the things we’ve been talking about here. First of all, it helps that person to feel heard. And you want them to feel heard, because even if you don’t like their feedback, it’s always to your benefit, to have open communication channels. And to make it clear that you are receptive to feedback. This goes a very long way in relationships. And it helps people to know that you take them seriously. So when you say thank you for that feedback, I’m going to write it down that does nurture the relationship.
The other thing, the reason why that having that open channel is so important, is because even if this particular feedback is not helpful to you, even if you use all the tips in this episode and your other strategies, and even if this particular feedback isn’t going to change anything for you, what you’ll be doing is encouraging the gift of future feedback. And you always want that. The more feedback that you get, the more chances you have to receive constructive, helpful feedback that you can act on. So be sure to always welcome it, even if you decide not to act on it, you don’t need to dwell on it, you don’t need to operate on it.
You don’t necessarily need to do anything with any of it. And it doesn’t need to be all consuming with your time or your emotional energy, but very, very good to have that encouragement that you view their feedback as valuable, that you view it as a gift and you want it to keep on coming.
And then the fourth tip is to actually write it down. So this is maybe, you know, just a simple continuation of tip number three, thanks for the feedback, I’m going to write it down. But you’ve got to actually write it down. This accomplishes a couple of things. If you’re actually in front of the person, you say I’m gonna write it down. Or if they can see you on zoom, for example, it’s helpful that act of writing it down, because that even further reinforces you take them seriously. But more importantly, it gives you the chance to reflect on it later. So that even if you feel defensive in the moment, and even if you’re using the strategies, you know, in the first tip, this gives you an opportunity to write it down have a durable record of things, you can kind of marinate on it in your mind, you can come back to later. And this is an absolute win that gives you the chance to capture it. And to come back to it later.
It gives you a record and maybe over time, you’d start to see some themes. Even if you didn’t really hear them in the first feedback or subsequent feedback. If you kind of review this, if you keep a journal, you may start to see some themes. So this is a double when it shows people that you really take them seriously. So that’s great for relationships, and it gives you something to reflect on later, when you are in more of that open mindset to really to really learn you’re not feeling wounded, you’re not feeling defensive.
The other thing it does, as you’re writing it down, is it buys you a little bit of time to think about what other questions you may wish to ask to understand even better. So in the second tip, I recommended that you ask for advice, ask how you could change it, what specifically you could do to achieve your goals better so that you can get that more instructive feedback, you can get more insight. And if you can’t think of anything, perhaps just the opportunity to take a second to write down the initial feedback will help bring something to mind.
Because you know this is not for show this is actually to help your understanding to help you be able to elicit from people that kinds of feedback that are actually helpful, right? The kind that are instructive that go beyond feelings of whether it makes you feel good or feel bad and gives you something actual to do that may improve your effectiveness.
Remember that there is potentially value in just about any feedback, right? If you play cards, if you play poker, you know, you’ve probably heard people say that there’s, you know, every hand can be a winner, right, there’s no such thing as a bad hand, it’s certainly there are good ones, but that you can play with just about anything. I think the same is true about feedback, not everybody’s feedback is going to have the same weight, not everybody is going to be right on. Some of that will be an outlier.
But if you have a growth mindset, and you’re not trying to talk yourself out of other people’s feedback, and you know that you can get better at things, if you want to, it’s absolutely a gift to get the feedback to get the most robust stream of feedback that you can from the from the greatest number of people that are willing to give it to you remember that even when people give you feedback that is that is unpleasant, right? That either feels like a criticism or sometimes even feels, you know, personal in some way, there is that person who’s giving it to you and is invested in that moment, they’re spending their time, their energy, they’re bothering to tell you what they think.
And so again, even if it is something that that you strongly disagree with, or that you have a very powerful reaction to initially, and that you want to just reject, I encourage you to go through these four steps and really capture it and continue to challenge yourself on whether there’s something that you can learn and something that you can do. If you do this, you may find that there’s some point in the future, when you look back on a feedback, conversation that did not feel good at that time, and your future self will actually feel good about it, and be able to reflect on how it helps you get to some some better higher place in life.
One quick bonus thought. Last week, we talked about how to turn feedback into a business asset in the form of a quote, a review or a testimonial. This is also possible with negative feedback, you already know from being a consumer and someone who reads online reviews about physical goods and services, which you know, is perhaps a little bit different from what you do professionally. But you already know, as a consumer, how powerful it is to read a review online that talks about resolution of problems, right when something went wrong. It wasn’t experienced or delivered in the way that the customer wanted it to be. And then the company went and made it right.
This is even more powerful than a sort of neutral, or even really glowing, positive review. Because it speaks to how the company handled things when things weren’t perfect. What did they do, and for you, whether this is about you as a professional or about your business about your medical practice, it’s very revealing about you how you handle things, when things aren’t, aren’t perfect when they’re not up to your standards or when they’re not up to the experience that the customer or patient intends.
Not every bad feedback will be applicable in this way. But be on the lookout for opportunities when you get less than stellar feedback. And you do the work to make sure that that giver feels heard and valued. And you use that feedback as a way to grow and improve, you may well have some follow up that is really glowing, you might have a future feedback opportunity where you can once again turn bad feedback into a really good experience. And in some cases, that good experience and that sort of good follow up feedback is something that may be able to be turned into a tangible professional asset for you just like we talked about in last week’s episode.
So I hope this has helped you to change the way that you’re going to approach feedback conversations. I hope it’s changed the way that you think about receiving feedback, especially feedback you don’t like. Maybe it’s even helped you think about a way you could change giving some of your feedback, although that’s a conversation for another day. Now you should know how to take both negative feedback and good feedback and turn them into things that will help you grow, advance your career and become a better professional and be more effective in all the things that you want to do.
That’s a wrap for today. Bye for now.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the career prescription. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.