How to Handle Negative Feedback

We all can agree on one thing: No one likes negative feedback. But everyone will receive it at one time or another, and no matter how good you are at your job, hearing that negative feedback can be a difficult process.

When you fall short of others’ expectations (or even your own), you may not know what to do next, especially if you thought you had met those expectations. Whether you receive that less than stellar feedback from your boss, peers, or customers, how you handle it is important.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of receiving negative feedback.

Immediate Reactions

When you first hear the feedback, don’t immediately get defensive and angry. While you may understandably be upset, you should be careful not to act impulsively on the emotions that you are feeling.

Rather, step back and consider their feedback carefully before you take any actions. Weigh their feedback against how you honestly thought you performed. You should always consider where the feedback is coming from and how well they know you and your work. If you find that you disagree with their feedback, it’s okay to open up that conversation as long as it remains respectful. In fact, communication surrounding feedback is always a good idea, even if you agree with their feedback– it provides clarity and prevents misunderstanding.

If you do agree with the feedback, work to understand your mistakes and why you made them. Sincerely apologize in a way that shows the person who gave you the feedback that you are ready to improve for the next time around.

During the initial moments of feedback, remind yourself that this feedback should be seen as constructive criticism. The person giving the feedback is likely not trying to hurt you or discourage you. They simply want to help you see your actions from someone else’s perspective.


Negative feedback offers one of the best opportunities for growth. You cannot improve at your job until you understand exactly what you are doing incorrectly. So, when you receive tough feedback, remind yourself that it’s a necessary part of professional development. Don’t let the negative feedback go to waste. Use it to your advantage.

Once you pinpoint areas for improvement, nothing should stop you from improving upon them. Find resources online to help you and try new routines and methods to fix your mistakes. But remember: No one is perfect, so let go of the idea of perfectionism. There will always be more areas for improvement and more possibilities for negative feedback. Do what you can, stay motivated, and keep a positive attitude.

As mentioned earlier, having a conversation about the feedback can be beneficial. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with the person who gave the feedback. You can have that conversation with a close friend or someone you trust if that would be more comfortable. But the conversation should be about seeking clarity and next steps for it to be the most beneficial.

Finally, you cannot let the negative feedback become a part of your identity. Consider it, learn from it, and move on. Don’t let it weigh you down or stop you from moving forward in your career because you are dwelling on it. Constructive criticism is meant to help you improve, not stop you in your tracks.


Receiving negative feedback is never easy, but it’s something that you can use to improve in your work. Remember that you are alone (we’ve all been there) and move forward with positive lessons from the experience.