How Negative Feedback Can Actually Improve Your Self-Confidence

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woman looking out the window thinking about negative feedback

When you receive negative feedback and criticism, how do you respond?

Most people have a lot of things to say about a lot of things. It's a bit tougher if it's your boss, employee, coworker, customer, relative, or friend, so you might just resort to biting your tongue, ignoring them, or changing the subject. You might be unsure of just how to respond to negative feedback. 

Not anymore!

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You can learn how to respond to negative feedback and criticism and also boost your confidence. 

Restore your power when face-to-face with negative feedback

When someone complains to you, especially directly in front of you, your first thought may be of a defensive nature. Even if your words indicate you want to help, your body language will communicate otherwise.

You have to change your perception of what feedback is.

When someone provides negative feedback, this is a sign that they noticed something isn’t working. They have the expectation or belief that this should go one way, and it didn’t.

What they want you to do is to acknowledge that their beliefs are important and you’ll do something about it because of them. 

When you’re face to face with a situation like this, the person is emotionally charged and sometimes can be a bit hostile. To disarm them, you need to know what their expectations were before they became dissatisfied.

This is very powerful since it shows that you’re interested in their perspective and beliefs, and want to understand them.

People need to feel listened to and important. The reason why people make more noise is because they’re not experiencing this feeling.

Now, understanding them doesn’t mean agreeing with them. But within that dissatisfaction or expectation, you can discover something that you're not seeing and use that information to better your communication.

How can you be more open to criticism? 

If you’re feeling challenged to be open to criticism, ask yourself: "What’s getting in my way that doesn’t allow me to see this possibility?"

Many times, you may take feedback personally when you shouldn’t.

There's great value in receiving feedback. Many won’t say anything when dissatisfied and will walk away and tell others instead of the person who can correct the situation.

You’re left pondering why you’re experiencing this friction in your life.

Create a space where feedback is appreciated. When they learn that you’re receptive, they’ll come to you sooner and be more civilized in the conversation because their negative emotions haven't escalated.

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When you have the difficult conversation about how to respond to negative feedback or criticism, you need to remember 3 things.

1. Keep yourself from allowing past experiences to predict how the conversation will go.

People change every moment — even slightly — and learn something new within those moments. Realistically, you can’t expect the same conversation to go in the same direction every time.

But, be aware of what triggers your past experience. If you can identify that trigger — a place, a word, a tone, or a look — that awareness helps you to change the direction of the conversation.

2. Don’t predict the future outcome and assume how the conversation will go.

This is how you allow the negative thoughts to create a story that isn’t true. Assumptions are conversation killers.

So you need to ask yourself if this thought is fabricated or if it's true.

3. Practice being present in that moment, and take the approach of solving.

When you’re focused on solving a problem, emotion sits on the back burner and logic kicks in. This allows you to look at the underlying issue and deal with it instead of fighting with emotions that hijack the conversation.

People love to solve problems, it gives you this power and confidence that you’re contributing and are important.

Being in this frame of mind helps you remain calm and focused. And when your mind and body language are more inviting and engaging, the other person becomes relaxed and receptive.

Here's how to respond to negative feedback so you overcome obstacles and still appear confident.

When receiving feedback, simply responding with "Thank you, I appreciate your honesty" will make the other person comfortable providing it.

If you respond with a defensive answer or body language, they’ll be less willing to help the next time.

Feedback comes loaded with the other person’s experience, fears, and beliefs. This doesn’t mean this information will be valuable, but it’ll get you thinking, and decide if you can use it, or discard it.

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What to say when someone is being nosy:

Be open with them about protecting your privacy.

A few responses you can use include:

"I would like to keep that to myself for now, thank you for your concern."

"Down the road, I may want your feedback, but for now I have a few things to figure out for myself."

"If I was to answer that question, what would you do with that information?"

"I love your curiosity! What is it about this that concerns you?"

How to respond to someone who's rude:

Ask them:

"How would you like me to respond to that?"

"What is it that you hope to gain from that comment?"

How to respond to compliments, confidently:

Many have this habit of not allowing themselves the luxury of receiving a genuine compliment and end up responding with something like, "Oh, this old thing?", "It was really nothing," or "I can’t take credit for that."

When you discount the compliment, you communicate to the giver that they have bad judgment, that they got it wrong, or that they have no taste.

You do this because you’re sympathetic to other people’s fears. You downplay your success so others will feel good about themselves. This is a habit you’ve held onto over the years.

Instead, you should be proud of your success and feel good about it! So, get in the habit of starting with a smile and simply saying, "Thank you, I appreciate your compliment."

RELATED: How To Be More Positive, Even When You're Surrounded By Constant Negativity

Christine Hourd, ACC, is a certified professional coach from Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients to remove obstacles and create strategies to reach their personal and professional goals. Book a consult.

This article was originally published at The Success Model. Reprinted with permission from the author.