How to receive negative feedback

Admittedly, leaders are probably the worst in taking on negative feedback. There is a simple explanation for this: once a certain position of power is achieved, a person usually receives less and less feedback. People are often afraid or do not have the enough confidence to speak up and point out a flaw in their boss’ behaviour or thinking.

Indeed, a lack of negative criticism is the best evidence that things aren’t going quite well. Therefore, promoting honest feedback and creating channels doing it anonymously are keys to start turning around this situation. Moreover, pay careful attention at the language of your colleges and always actively listen and respond only for clarification or examples.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world


Firstly, a true leader should thank the critic to speak up and raise the issue, treating feedback as a gift. This will help to create a constructive frame of mind and avoid defensive positions. Choose carefully the source of your words so that they are more logical than emotional and promote a discussion following the Socratic Method. This promotes cooperative argumentative dialogues between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.

In this article that has inspired this post, Marcel Schwantes formulates three questions that leaders should make themselves when receiving negative feedback in the context of emotional intelligence.

  1. What can I learn from the feedback? Prevent from repeating the mistake over and over.
  2. How did the feedback make me feel? Why? Connect with your inner self.
  3. What’s the next step?

The habit of reflection on these three key points will bring a high degree of emotional intelligence. In turn, business will get better, personal performance will improve, and the relationships with colleagues will become ever-more fruitful.


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