Turning Negatives into Positives

Turning Negatives into Positives

None of us are perfect.  And there may be a time when you have to react to some feedback that is less than favorable.  We all have to endure our share of uncomfortable conversations. And you will be best served to participate actively.  Yes, it would be best if you got prepared for any review or discussion of performance, but making yourself open to absorb criticism and turn it into a positive is the mark of a person equipped to handle change and growth.

Get Ready

One of the best lessons from the iLoveFeedback® learning kit is taking time to prepare yourself to receive feedback.  Before your scheduled review, take a few minutes and get into a positive headspace. Clear your mind and leave the stress about what ‘might’ happen behind. Start the process with an open mind. Get in the moment with some breathing exercises and prepare. Your positive attitude will serve you well here.

All Feedback Can Be Useful Feedback

If the person giving you feedback didn’t care, they wouldn’t be giving you any feedback at all. If you are being given observable and specific feedback is a sign that someone wants you to improve. Though you may feel the feedback is only identifying your weaknesses, you can be sure the person delivering the feedback cares about your future and your success. Everyone has areas of opportunity for improvement.  And once these areas are identified, you should consider the input a tool for your growth!  More alarming is a review where you don’t hear anything at all.

Take it in the Spirit in Which it Was Meant

While your first reaction may be to get defensive about hearing negative feedback, take a second to think.  Listen carefully, focus on the big picture, and take notes.  Allow the other person enough space to complete thoughts and sentences. Temper your defensive reaction, continue to breathe, stay positive, and at the end, ask for details.  Asking for clarification opens the feedback exchange up for a reciprocal dialogue.  Plus, the more you know about your dead angles and blind spots, the more quickly you can address and improve.

Be Proactive

Once you’ve taken on the negative feedback, it’s time to get proactive about change and improvement.  Make sure you are clear on the details about where you can improve and start thinking about your plan to improve.  Ask for help if you need it.   Seeking help shows initiative and ambition and create a personal performance improvement plan with guidance from your supervisor or boss. Meeting mutually agreed-upon deliverables and milestones can propel your professional development very quickly.  Most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to schedule follow up wherever necessary. Imagine yourself at your next review, where you can point to overcoming this challenge as an accomplishment.


Real change will take time, and no one will expect you to get there overnight.  You have the information, make your plan and move on.  Don’t let this taint your entire attitude. Your ability to hear negative feedback, act on it, and not let the negativity creep in will have a significant impact on your overall success.  Don’t dwell. Learn the lesson and take it with as you move ahead.

In the Moment

There may be a time when you are given feedback not in a controlled review setting but in the moment.  Without the chance to prepare, you’ll have to dig deep into your emotional intelligence and act with grace.  In the moment, listen and don’t forget to breathe. The feedback may be vague and underdeveloped, but take the feedback and move on.  At a later time, take the initiative to schedule a formal meeting to ask for more details. Your improvement is your responsibility, and a formal meeting can open up candid dialogue.  Ideally, “praise in public, criticize in private” would keep negative feedback out of an in-the-moment situation.  But it’s not a guarantee, and sometimes you can’t avoid it.

If you find yourself in the business of giving or receiving feedback, we’d love to help.  You can sign up to receive updates in your inbox here, learn more from our website, or get in touch for more information to suit your specific needs.