We’ve all been there. That dreaded email comes through and you can feel your stomach turn just hearing the notification. Read on for 10 Tips to Deal with Tough Feedback.
Instead of proceeding into a spiral of feelings and getting completely worked up for the rest of the day, here are some ways I’ve personally found to help me to get grounded and respond to tough feedback in the best, most professional way possible.
So you open the email and start fuming or feel like crying or just disappointed. Not the feedback you were looking for on that presentation, project, etc.
1. Take a deep breath
First and foremost, take a second, close your eyes even, and breathe, in and out. Try that maybe three times.
2. Remove yourself and take a short walk
I’ve found movement helps me process things best. Don’t just sit there crawling in your skin, physically move your body. Change up your environment, even if that means to the fridge to grab water, but preferably take a lap of the block, or just a quick 2-5 minute stroll down the street.
3. Run through a Jenna Kutcher 5 min, hour, day, week, month rule
She has a blog post and a podcast about this. Check them out here because it’s the best thing. The gist – run yourself through each of those time periods and ask, will this matter in 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days? 5 months?
4. Set a timer and journal it out
A lot of people don’t always love this method unless you’re already a journaler. Heck, I don’t even like this method when I’m worked up. But you know what? If I sit down and do it for even 2 minutes when I am worked up 10/10 times I feel so much better afterward. So, my advice, give it a shot.
5. Write out a response in your notes on your phone, read it out loud, and repeat
Sounds crazy but it’s wildly helpful. Don’t hold back, write out the meanest version, then read it, and then rewrite. Keep going until it feels reasonable that you could say that to another human being’s face and it feels constructive, not defensive.
6. Remove any emotionally charged or blaming words
After speaking and writing it, go through to flag and remove any words that are emotionally charged. Anything that feels a bit like you’re defending your feelings rather than the actual work.
7. Send your response to someone you trust that’s outside of the situation (even outside of the organization you work for)
Send to your work wife, your mentor, or a friend you respect for their professionalism and kindness. A second opinion usually helps when we’re feeling unsure. But do keep in mind, at the end of the day, you are the one you have to sit with on the words you choose.
8. Wait an hour, even a couple if you’re able to, to really sit with your response
Give it some time. Breath again, go for another walk, work on a project you feel really good about, or do something creative. Read your affirmations. Reread and then make your final decision.
You’ve got this.
10. A Few Reminders
You are not the feedback you receive. Just a good reminder, that even when we mess up, BIG TIME it does not denote our value as human beings. You are worthy and valuable.
You are not your feelings, you are a being who experiences feelings, you’re allowed to feel those feelings but they are not you, you are not them. You can let them pass by like a floating cloud as easily as you let them come in. Mel Robbins and Amber Rae both talk about the voices in our heads and feelings as characters we can name and politely ask to leave or step aside.
If you don’t fail, mess up, and get feedback on what went wrong how are we supposed to learn? I frequently ask clients for feedback, even when it might hurt or not be what I want to hear. The goal is to learn from it, grow and take steps forward based on what you learned. We’re not here to be perfect, we’re here to grow and be a little bit better every day.
I hope these 10 tips to deal with tough feedback have helped you feel a bit more grounded and prepared to handle that dreaded email the next time around.