How to Overcome the Fear of Negative Feedback

Personal Effectiveness 20th October 2016 Neeraj Deshpande

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When it comes to preparing oneself for the mid-year or annual or quarterly feedback, receptivity generally varies. Some get cold feet, sweaty palms and creases on their forehead, thanks to stress and fear, while others look forward to it. If you fall in the former category then it’s apparent that your fear stems from the fear of being criticised and corrected. But then it is important to understand that regardless of whether it is a positive or negative feedback, it helps you grow. You’ll learn from your mistakes and be guided to perform better. Worrying hasn’t done anyone any good. You need to learn to get over your fears and only you can help yourself. Here’s how.

Think of it as an opportunity

Stop thinking of review sessions as a personal attack on your potential. It will only hurt you if you’re unwilling to hear it or are reluctant to grow. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to get your act together. If you’ve made a mistake learn from it instead of brooding over it and assuming the world’s plotting a plan against you from succeeding.

Related: How to Constructively Handle Criticism at Work

Trust the person giving you feedback

Whether it is the first time or the tenth time you’re being reviewed, you have to trust the reviewer and the feedback being given to you. Should you have any concerns, raise them. Question. Reframe their statements to make sure you’ve got exactly what they mean. The point in the end is to take it in your stride.

Eliminate negative thoughts

There’s no point in wasting your time dwelling on thoughts of being shamed during the meeting. Why imagine? Or why presume and burden yourself with fear? You know the amount of hard work you’ve put in. If you’ve done it well, you’ll be praised for it and if not then you probably do deserve an appropriate response. Your supervisor or boss already knows how you’re performing because as a manager they keep an eye on all their subordinates. So, stop worrying. Get on with it and sit with an open mind.

Related: 5 Strategies to Deal With a Bad Boss

Acknowledge and admit where you went wrong

When discussing work-related scenarios where you’ve erred, own up to where you went wrong and seek advice on what you can do to avoid a similar situation in the future. This will help both you and the feedback-giver to come to the point far more easily than worrying bruised egos.

Related: 5 Professional Ethics To Follow At Workplace

Ask for feedback more often

If it’s possible, ask your manager to review your work quarterly instead of waiting for half-yearly or annual review meetings. This way you will get more comfortable receiving a feedback about your performance and learn about how to keep the bar from dipping. This also helps you become more aware of their expectations and plan your work accordingly.

Make following-up a habit

Once you’ve received a negative feedback or one contrary to your opinion, work on a plan to improve your action points. After that ask for your manager’s opinion on how you’re faring. Ensure that this isn’t just done to prove you’re improving. Show that you genuinely have a knack to learn and grow. Besides, don’t be scared of making mistakes. They are indeed your stepping stones to success.

Most importantly, train yourself into believing that feedback does good to your career and it is only you who can benefit from it. Every fall is worth it because you’ll learn how to rise up. This is the only sure shot way to overcome the fear of negative feedback.


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