Leadership: Does Negative Feedback Drive You to These Reactions? | #PeopleSkills

Does negative feedback drive you to be defensive? This is a critical question especially for leaders, managers, and others in authority. When people give you negative feedback, (especially when you didn’t ask for it), how do you respond? Do you criticize, demean, or minimize them in return? Here are some everyday examples.

Negative Feedback: Image is a mesh ping pong paddle.

Negative Feedback: Don’t Turn It Back on Others. Image by ShapeWays via Flickr.

Image by Shapeways via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Negative Feedback: Does It Trigger Your Defensiveness?

Here are everyday examples of defensive reactions to negative feedback. They demean and minimize others. These defensive reactions also make you look immature and vengeful. On the flip side, leaders being grateful for negative feedback build tremendous respect and trust. What a difference!

Defensive Reactions to Negative Feedback

  • “Oh, you are nervous.” A family member waiting for a loved one in simple day surgery gets no information for hours. When the doctor comes out and says all went well, the family member says they are glad. They go on to tell the doctor that no one would give them any information about the lengthy delay. The doctor reacts with a patronizing reply, “oh you were nervous.” The family member replied, “No. Not nervous. Annoyed.” The family member then wrote a negative online review about the doctor and the day surgery center. Better response: Had the doctor simply apologized and thanked the family member for their feedback, they would have felt respected. Don’t patronize others when they give you negative feedback.

  • “Oh you must be confused.” This response to negative feedback makes you look like you are living on the cutting edge of denial. Unless it is a true case of mistaken identity, accept the negative feedback you are getting without disparaging the other person’s mental state.

  • Defensive Reactions to Negative Feedback: Cast Aspersions?

  • “It sounds like you lack self-confidence.” OMG. A professor laid this minimizing missive on a student when the student objected to the sudden change in the course format. Clearly he took the objection as negative feedback about his decision. He then assumed the student was weak and put her down. He regretted it when the student filed a complaint about him with the dean.

  • “You sound very emotional.” When someone is giving you negative feedback that you don’t like, labeling them as emotional makes you look manipulative. You are shifting the focus from the message that you don’t like onto how they are delivering it. Do you know what this will do? It could push them from emotion to rage! Don’t do it. Assuming the person is not calling you a bleeping *#%^#, listen to their message with self-confidence. Be grateful for the feedback and the chance to learn.

  • Defensive Reactions to Negative Feedback: Childish Attacks

  • “No one is perfect.” “You aren’t perfect either.” When you punch back to negative feedback, it exposes your insecurity and immaturity. It virtually screams that you are a child. This is a terrible image for any leader, manager, teacher, doctor, lawyer, or anyone in a position of authority.

Don’t let negative feedback trigger your defensive reactions. You can choose to be open and mature vs. demeaning, degrading, and dismissive of others. Being open not only increases your emotional intelligence, it builds tremendous respect and trust. Grab this unique opportunity and soar to success.

Your turn: What have you learned in life about dealing with negative feedback?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
How to Get People to Be More Direct w/ You
Why People Label Others & How to Stop

©2019 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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4 Responses to “Leadership: Does Negative Feedback Drive You to These Reactions? | #PeopleSkills”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    Insightful, Kate. I told my son he’s spending too much time on tech, playing games, and staring at a screen. He then told me that my laptop is always open and I’m always online. My first reaction was, “that’s not the same! You have a problem, I don’t.” Upon reflection, I am on a lot. Am I doing things of value? Sure. Could I be on less? You bet.

    Will share, Kate! Appreciate your examples here.


  2. Terri Klass says:

    I love this topic because it comes up so much in our workplaces and when dealing with colleagues. Negative feedback is feedback that can help us grow and become more impactful. I try to offer negative feedback in a respectful way but always making sure I am clear and authentic. I listen to negative feedback with an eye to how I can become a stronger person and leader.
    Thanks for a great post Kate!

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