Nobody likes to receive negative feedback. It makes us feel hurt, leading to anger and a defensive attitude. We blame the person who left the feedback and many of us try to ignore it because we know what negative feedback does: damage our reputation. By sticking our heads in the sand, we continue to believe that we are capable, skilled, and effective. But this is the wrong approach! True reputation management is about seeing negative feedback for the positive it can be.
It is impossible to go through life without receiving criticism. It is also unlikely you can stop yourself from feeling hurt. However, you can coach yourself to welcome this feedback, because it is still better than no feedback. If you have made someone unhappy, you need to see it as an opportunity on what to do to make yourself better.
How to Turn the Negative into a Positive
- Accept that it is there, and that at least one person sees you in that manner. This isn’t about right or wrong. Negative feedback is information, and you need to use that information to improve.
- Listen to what is said, and encourage feedback, even if it is negative. Focus on the well-being of the people who leave the comments and try to understand what it is that they want from you. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they say, it simply means that you value them and allow their opinions.
- Think about your tone. Perhaps people don’t feel comfortable talking to you and they leave negative feedback because they want a reaction. This is particularly true if the negative reviews are left somewhere other than your own sites.
- Stop dismissing feedback, whether it is good or bad. Every review is an important piece of information. When you show people you care about them, they will start to care about you as well.
- Become more reflective. Ask yourself how you are really doing, and how your actions affect others.
Negative feedback affects everybody. Businesses are afraid to receive a negative review. Leaders and managers worry about losing respect from those they manage. Individuals are afraid of losing friends or their standing in the community. But what negative feedback actually is, is not something that will cause your reputation to be damaged. Rather, it is proof that your reputation is already damaged, and that you have to take action to improve it.
Negative reviews are an opportunity to learn, in the same way as positive reviews are. When you do something good, you will consider it a great success and try to build on that so that you can replicate it. So why not do the same with negative reviews? Build on those so that you can avoid further negative criticism in the future. Never become defensive, never point the finger of blame. Accept that some people are not happy with you, and do what you can to turn that around.