Seven Positive Responses to Negative Feedback


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Negative feedback isn’t the issue. You are.

How you respond to correction, criticism, and negative feedback tells me who you are. It’s even more telling when it comes from someone of lower status.

Negative responses:

  1. “It’s your fault too.”
  2. Making it personal.
  3. Standing aloof
  4. Minimizing.
  5. Arguing.
  6. Feeling attacked.
  7. Finger pointing.
  8. Excuse making.
  9. Denial.
  10. “I’ll never be good enough.”

Negative responses to negative feedback delay growth, destroy progress, and lose respect.

Focus on response.
Learn how to take it gracefully.
Receiving correction is pivotal to your leadership.

Positive responses:

  1. Gratitude. Don’t get gushy or pretend it doesn’t hurt. Just say thanks for your feedback.
  2. Questions. Avoid statements until you’ve asked clarifying questions.
  3. Restatements. “I hear you saying…”
  4. Solutions. Ask for suggested solutions. Simple is essential; one or two is enough.
  5. Happy. Do corrective behaviors make sense and feel good? If the path forward isn’t inviting you’ll avoid it.
  6. Initiate. Don’t wait. Ask for a follow-up. Make it soon. Meet in two weeks for a progress report. Four weeks is too long. If behaviors call for negative feedback, solve them quickly.
  7. Gratitude again.


No response is better than over-reaction.

Correction is tough to hear. Listen, and if necessary, ask for some time to think it over. Be honest. “This is hard to hear. Could I have an hour to digest your feedback?”


Include those who were impacted by negative behaviors. Explain what you’re working on and corrective actions. You go further when others know where you’re going. In a few days, ask them how you’re doing.

Open up don’t push away.

Drop it and move on:

Ask for affirmation when you achieved goals. Reject nitpicking. Move on.

Responding well to negative feedback, toughens character, increases influence, and strengthens connections.

Facebook participants respond to: “When you’re on the receiving end of a tough conversation _______.”

What negative responses to feedback have you seen? Positive responses?

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