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[Professional Development]

7 Tips for Turning Criticism into Positive Feedback

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

How Re-framing Criticism into Feedback Improves Results & Personal Growth


We love to hear all of the great feedback on what we’ve done well. Let's face it, it’s not the most difficult thing in the world to hear how amazing we are at our work! 

The difficulty comes from when we have to accept negative feedback (or rather criticism) without becoming defensive and emotional. After all, it’s human nature for our minds to want to defend us. We consider what has been said to see if we agree and often our minds want to argue with it. It’s much harder to face the negative as it challenges us to think in different ways and see the situation through different eyes that might be different from what we first believed. 

At Life Ladder, we believe that delivering feedback well is one of the most valuable tools, not only in business but also for a happy life. Our corporate personal development membership platform enables employees to develop soft skills and professional development skillsets  such as communication skills, team-working and emotional intelligence, ensuring mindsets are set up for personal growth and performance.  Key to this is helping individuals see how feedback is a benefit and a learning opportunity. 

An article on Forbes explores how embracing negative feedback can help your career development, which means you’re not only developing personally, you can boost your professional development too. 

We know professional development is a game-changer and it is our mission to inspire and enable colossal enjoyment of self-development, which will help people to live better lives. 

There’s always self-development to be had from feedback, so we've put together an article for you article to provide you with some coaching tips to getting the most out of feedback. 

7 tips for accepting negative criticism like a pro & reframing it into feedback that works to your advantage

1. Listen to feedback and have the mental strength to be patient 

It can be incredibly tempting to cut in and start putting your point across as soon as the negative comments flow.  

When you do this, you’re probably going to miss out on some vital parts. 

You need to listen carefully to everything that’s said with an open mind and wait until they either finish or specifically ask for your comments. 

There’s no need to rush. Let them express everything they need to. It’s not easy getting feedback, but it’s certainly not easy giving it either, so keep that in mind. Give them the space to express themselves freely. 

If you don’t, the person giving you feedback will get irritated and will be far harsher and more assertive than before.  

You don’t want to ruin the relationship you have with this person (leading to MORE negative feedback). 

What happens if you wait and listen? Respect. You’ll gain their respect and appreciation and they’ll feel like they can approach you in the future. That way, if they feel you’re doing something wrong in the future they’ll be able to talk to you much sooner before it becomes an issue, which a more positive place to start for feedback. 

There’s so much power in listening. With great listening comes great understanding, and you’ll learn far more if you all understand each other. 

2. Develop a winning mindset to embrace the fact there is no failure, only feedback 

Just as life is a journey, so is business. 

It’s not the end of the world to get feedback on how you can do something better. We’re all on a path with constant choices about how we can become better versions of ourselves. If someone has something to say that indicates you have things to learn, this is NOT a failure. 

In fact, you should take it as a compliment (bear with us here!) .

Think about your favourite restaurant. This restaurant represents great value and you’ve been there several times and have some good memories in it. The food is exactly the kind of thing you love and if you had to, you’d happily go there all the time. 

What happens if one night you go and the atmosphere isn’t as fantastic as usual? Perhaps the service is unusually slow and the food isn’t quite up to scratch; would you give up going to your favourite restaurant forever because of one experience? 

Now, I don’t know you, but I’m betting you’d likely give it another chance if it’s your favourite restaurant. 

Instead of crossing it off your list forever, you have the option of giving the staff a bit of feedback. Let them know how much you love going there and make them aware that on this occasion, it wasn’t quite what you wanted. 

This gives them a chance to learn from what they did wrong and get better. The likelihood is that something went wrong that day (maybe a chef was ill and didn’t come into work, or they were short staffed), but this feedback gives them the chance to learn. 

So, back to you. If someone takes the time to give you feedback, they’re choosing to eat in your restaurant again. They want to keep you around. All they want to do is let you know that on this occasion, things were a little less sweet. 

The fact that they’re investing this time and effort in you means that you’re worth it. 

They could just disappear, leave, or avoid you. Instead, they’re opening up and creating a positive communication path for you both. 

So, next time you get some criticism, keep in mind that this is not a failure. You’ll be far more receptive to the feedback and you’ll remain much calmer and relaxed. 


3. Choose gratitude to boost your personal development and mental wellbeing

This is a big deal. Teaching people how to give feedback is one of the biggest areas of our leadership development training as it can be really difficult for people, so be thankful. 

I know it can be very difficult to thank someone when you feel you’re just getting negative comments thrown at you, but it will help you so much more to be grateful than spiteful. 

Show them that you appreciate the feedback and that you’re glad they’ve spoken to you about it so that you can learn from it. Gratitude isn’t just about words either. 

Have you ever had someone say thank you to you and it feels false? It’s almost worse than someone not saying thank you at all. 

Nothing that feels fake will help you. To build incredible relationships, authenticity is key. 

We’re not asking you to get better at lying here. We mean that you genuinely need to find reasons to thank them authentically! 

To do this, you need to work on yourself internally. Re-read the top 2 tips and really understand them. If you do this, you’ll already be on your way to being grateful for feedback. 

Once you show gratitude, you’ll open doors to improved relationships. 

Harvard Medical School says that giving thanks can make you happier, so there are many wins to our recommended approach.

4. Embrace learning to help your self-development 

Once you’ve learnt to listen, wait, and show your gratitude, you’re ready to accept the lesson they’re giving you. 

Let them know you’ve heard them, and you’ve accepted the feedback and you’re going to implement the changes. 

Empathy is useful at this stage. You need to understand their view and situation and let them know what you’ve taken from the discussion, as well as how you will use it in the future. 

Why is this important? Because the person giving the feedback will feel valued and that it was worth their time and effort investing in you. 

Consequently, they’ll be happy to communicate with you in the future and it will strengthen your relationship. 

What you shouldn’t do is argue back, disagree, or point out why they’re wrong; even if you believe it to be true. It’s a sure-fire way to destruct the relationship. 

The most powerful people can be humble in the face of feedback. When you’re defensive, you’ll appear weaker and less courageous. 

Hold your head high, respect that they see things differently, and appreciate their viewpoint and opinion. This reflects strength, courage, resilience, and power. All attributes the most powerful people should strive for. 

If you want to be respected in business, accept the learning, it will pay dividends. 


5. Be aware of body language 

If your body language is closed or disinterested, this will not go down well! 

It’s highly unlikely that a successful interaction will come out of it. You’re basically letting them know you’re not going to be receptive to anything they have to say. 

Going into any feedback situation, show you’re engaged by mirroring their body language, looking directly at them, and removing any barriers between you. 

Avoid folding your arms, turning your body away, or keeping a laptop in front of you. This may sound obvious, but I’ve seen it happen tonnes of times and it instantly breaks the rapport and connection you have. 

Research shows that over 50% of what we communicate is based on non-verbal communication so be aware and mindful of your body. 

When you’re conscious of your communication, your interactions will become far more meaningful.

6. Avoid giving your own feedback unless there’s a set structure for it

You’ve listened. You’ve taken it in. You’ve accepted it and you’re ready to implement it. Great! 

Now is NOT the time to turn it back on them, especially if you’re feeling a little fragile after getting your feedback. 

If possible, it’s advisable to avoid the ‘tit-for-tat’ approach. Focus on what they’ve expressed to you and don’t try and take the stage to outshine them or put them in the hot seat. Not only will it make you look defensive, but it’ll feel like retaliation to them. 

Of course, when you’re specifically asked for feedback, such as in a performance review, you should absolutely give your two cents. 

Just bear in mind that the feedback you give should not sound like you’re retaliating to their comments. Be aware and considered in how you respond and how they’re likely to take it.

7. Follow up later and show your commitment to personal development  

When they leave the room, they’ll think that it’s all over and will wonder whether you’re actually going to take everything on board. 

Rather than waiting for them to follow up with you, wouldn’t it be incredible for YOU to be the one following up? 

You can drop them a quick email saying something like... 

‘Thanks again for the feedback today. I really appreciate it and I’m happy you’ve made me aware of the issue because now I can learn from it. I look forward to implementing the changes we discussed and would appreciate your feedback in the future.’ 

What an impact that would make! 

If the person had any concerns about how things would be moving forwards, you’ve just busted them. This leaves both parties free to enjoy an interactive, productive, and valuable business relationship. 

There you have it; 7 tips to take feedback like a pro! 

I hope you’ve found this useful and start to implement these great tips as soon as possible. Communication is so important, and helps your relationships, which improves your happiness. 

Here's a link for more information on how you and your team can focus on your professional and life goals with Life Ladder.


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