You’re going to get critical feedback, because you’re not perfect and your boss isn’t perfect, either.
Yes, sometimes critical feedback is unfair or not entirely true.
Yes, you’ll remember it longer than you remember praise and commendation.
Yes, sometimes it’s delivered in a poor or unprofessional way.
But… critical feedback is the granola breakfast cereal of champions, chewy and healthy. You don’t have to like it. The truth is that we all need to be managed, and none of us like it.
Therefore, make it your ambition to get the most out of critical feedback.
It’s a gift, so don’t whine and say Thank You
Think of critical feedback as a condensed review of a complicated situation that is saving you time figuring out things on your own. No matter the format (verbal or written), express your appreciation. Recognize that for most people the act of giving critical feedback is hard and unpleasant.
Let yourself feel some emotion for a few minutes
Any kind of feedback which we don’t instantly and fully agree with is going to generate an emotional response. You’re human. It’s ok to be angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated, scared – for a few minutes. Work through it. Time-box it. This is an essential step in processing feedback.
Write it out
Get out some paper and pen, and write out what you heard. Break it down to pull out elements of the criticism. Don’t trust your memory to deal with all this. Get it out on paper so you can review it with some detachment and distance.
Seek kernels of truth in the popcorn fluff
Maybe it’s all true, maybe not, but begin with the assumption is it all correct. Look at your breakdown of the feedback and decide if there is any part of it you want to discount. Guard yourself against excuse-making and rationalizations at this stage. In my family we say, “Excuses are lies we tell ourselves.”
Plan to improve
Given your analysis, ask, “So what next?” You can’t change the past, but you can make decisions about what will be different next time. Is there prep work you need? Better processes or more discipline? An improved relationship? Better communication?
You would not have read this far is you planned to wallow and whine about the unfairness of it all. So what will you do next? I especially recommend you go back to the person who gave you the critical feedback and share your plan.
Remember, reframe critical feedback as an opportunity to accelerate your growth.