5 Tips to Help You Stop Taking Negative Feedback So Personally

Feedback—even when delivered politely and constructively—can undoubtedly be tough to swallow.

No matter how many compliments or affirmations you receive, it’s typical to have that one pesky, negative piece of criticism that continues to echo around your brain and undermine your self-assuredness.

We’ve all been there. Dozens of people might tell me how much they admire my writing. But, it’s always that one piece that’s been destroyed by an editor’s red pen that’s going to haunt me.

However, feedback is a necessary part of life—particularly as a professional. And, while learning how to respond and implement those comments is crucial, there’s one more key thing you need to know when dealing with it: How to bounce back from it without letting those remarks completely eat away at your confidence.

Sound impossible? It’s not. Implement these five key tips, and you’ll use criticism to your advantage—without allowing it to destroy your spirit.

1. Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Any sort of negative feedback can often seem harsh or brutal. However, it’s important that you recognize pure intentions in the people who are offering you criticism.

More often than not, people don’t voice opinions to make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, they’re invested in the outcome and want to see you succeed—which means they’re going to be open about suggestions for improvement.

So, do your best to keep your chin up and avoid seeing all criticism as a personal attack. It likely wasn’t meant that way.

2. Remember Nobody Is Perfect

In an ideal world, every single one of your projects and ideas would be met with hearty rounds of applause and tons of congratulatory pats on the back. However, that’s not reality.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person who has never been on the receiving end of brutal feedback at least once in his life. It’s inevitable. And, ultimately, it’s a good thing—it exists to make you grow and improve as a professional.

Don’t get bent out of shape thinking you’re a useless, no-talent hack at the first site of criticism. Remember, nobody’s perfect.

3. Focus on the Content

When you’re receiving feedback, it unfortunately becomes all too easy to get wrapped up in the context of the situation.

Why is this person pointing this out in a team meeting and not privately? Is she trying to make you look bad in front of your boss? Does she want your job?

However, if you truly want to make the most of criticism (and avoid getting overly worked up about it), you’re better off tuning all of that out in order to zone in on the meat of the message. What is the core point of the feedback that person is providing?

If you’re able to avoid taking things personally or obsessing over petty details, you’ll get to the true crux of the issue. And, more often than not, you’ll find a valuable solution or suggestion that you can actually utilize.

4. Flip the Script

Effectively accepting feedback doesn’t mean you need to idly nod along, get away from that person as quickly as possible, and then move on with your day.

No, you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to respond to criticism with questions and requests for clarification. That way, you can be clear on what was intended and use it to actually improve your work.

Asking questions also has another benefit: It’ll change the way you perceive your criticizer. Instead of viewing him as a snarky peanut gallery that exists for the sole purpose of destroying your self-assuredness, you’ll see him as a helpful resource you can turn to for added detail or clarity.

Not feeling like everybody’s out to get you? That’s a surefire way to give yourself a little confidence boost.

5. Learn From It

You know that feedback exists to make you better. But, that really only happens if you apply it—and then learn from it.

So, remember to take note of the things you learned, and then apply them immediately next time. Nobody likes to give (or receive!) the same piece of feedback over and over again.

Not only will this make your immediate project better, but it’ll also improve all of your future ones. And, that increase in comprehension and skill is sure to lead to an equal increase in your own confidence as well.

There’s no doubt about it—negative feedback can be tough to hear. However, allowing it to drag you down and destroy your self-confidence won’t do anybody any favors.

Use these five tips, and you’ll move on from criticism even better than before—with your ego intact, no less.

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Photo of person giving feedback courtesy of Morsa Images/Getty Images

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