BlogDesign and Development

How To Graciously Accept Negative Feedback

Written by Siddhita Upare
Published on October 28th, 2020

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You’ve just finished work on a brilliant new design.

You love it, your team members love it, your managers also really like it.

But then the client takes a look at it — “What is this? We don’t like it.”

Previously, we’ve talked about how to share constructive feedback. Today, we want to talk about how to accept negative feedback and use the same to improve your work.

1. Don’t take it personally

The very first rule of work-place feedback is to de-personalize it. This feedback is for your work, not about you as a person or individual. While your ego might take a hit, the negative feedback isn’t meant to criticize you or skills — it is only about what needs to be changed in your output at work.

Also, unless you receive the same kind of negative feedback regularly, you’re clearly doing more right than wrong. Don’t let negative feedback affect your self-confidence or make you doubt your skills. Just as it is important to not take negative feedback personally, it is important that you evaluate where you can apply this feedback to reduce future friction and disappointment.

2. Don’t be defensive

Most of us will automatically want to jump to defend our work. Defending yourself with statements like“The brief wasn’t clear!” or “You loved this style the last time!” will not result in anything useful. Take a pause, and really listen to what the feedback includes. Take notes and see where you went wrong and how you can use this feedback to improve — this shows your consideration for others’ inputs on your work.

3. Focus on what can be improved

Take a moment to self-evaluate and critically look at your work from the perspective of the person sharing the negative feedback. When you put yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to understand what was missing and what needs to be done to improve your work and bring it up to their standards. As with any feedback, it’s important to focus on what can be improved in your output and actions, because this will be a pivotal moment of learning in your career.

4. Ask for clear instructions & clarifications

It is important to ask for clear, specific, and actionable feedback so you can make the necessary changes to ensure your design or your work reflects what’s expected of you.

Good, useful feedback also highlights positive aspects so pick up on the bits that were appreciated and ask for clarifications about the changes and edits required. This will make sure that you don’t miss anything and share a high-quality output.

5. Ask for time

Don’t respond to negative feedback immediately. Always ask for time. For instance, you could say something like:

“Thanks for your feedback! Can we circle back at the end of the day once I’ve had time to think about it and offer potential solutions?”

Time will help you cool down and spot any mistakes and errors that can be easily fixed before you speak to the person who offered the feedback. Often, we spend so much time with our work that we miss little details that can unravel a project. Taking some time to look at your work objectively will help you learn from the experience and put the negative feedback to good use.

6. Use it for growth

Negative feedback is something everyone faces in life. For most of us, our work becomes a large part of our identity and that’s why it can be difficult to hear criticism about it. Taking the negative feedback positively can help you grow in your career and as a person because, at the end of the day, your work will reflect the time and dedication you put into it.

Nobody likes receiving negative feedback but knowing how to accept, and then use it to improve yourself can be a really useful thing to build both personal and professional relationships. Infact, apart from the personal growth, you can use negative feedback to improve the customer satisfaction too!

An easy way to avoid strong, negative feedback is to constantly get feedback at every step so that the client is not surprised by the final output.

ruttl is a visual feedback and collaboration tool that allows you to invite key stakeholders and clients to review your web design projects at different stages so you can ensure that your work is correctly aligned with their vision.

Sounds exciting? We hope so.

We’ve begun handing out the first few beta keys to the users on our waitlist. Click on the button below to join us as an early user to share YOUR feedback!

This is the third post in our Feedback series. Check out the difference between critiquing & criticism and adopt 7 ways to give better feedback.

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