Last Monday I started off the day with an angry call from a client who was disappointed with a trainer and their performance at a very important seminar. Following this conversation I followed up with the trainer to figure out what happened and what went wrong. Interestingly, the trainer was shocked by my clients allegations, and aggressively defended her work. She even insisted that the seminar was perfect, and that the client had to be making a mistake or was simply wrong.
Well, in this business it is fairly uncommon for someone to call me to give bad feedback unless there was really a reason to do so. But I was stuck in an awkward situation, since the trainer had no interest in considering the other side…. And this really got me thinking. What can we do to take the negative out of negative feedback?
How often do we get feedback that we immediately discredit? I think it’s time to let the criticism be heard – good or bad. Bad feedback could be the golden carrot to improving ourselves as professionals. Not only as a trainer, but in any profession, there are people that we do need to impress. If those people feel that we have done a bad job, maybe we have done a bad job. And the only thing worse than doing a bad job, is not learning from it.
Professional, the best feeling in the world is being recognized for your hard work. But we all cannot be perfect workers overnight – there needs to be lessons learned, and even some trial and error. Accepting negative feedback is another way of developing and growing the professional in each of us. Instead of insisting that the other person is wrong, and playing the victim, let’s think about what the other person has to say.
Of course when I get an idea in my head, I have to analyze it and provide myself with reasons and solutions. Here I’d like to share some rules I have followed that have allowed me to accept criticism, and turn it into a tool to improve myself professional.
Be resilient. Resilience can come naturally, or it can be learned over time. For those that are naturally resilient, I commend you. For those who are not, let’s learn to be. One of the core competencies in any professional setting is resilience, being able to bounce back and doing it with confidence. We can teach ourselves resilience by accepting failure – which means listening to that bad feedback we so badly want to discredit, and actually making changes.
Be a listener. Being a good listener doesn’t just mean that you can sit with your best friend at lunch and hear about her problems. It means that when other people have something of significance to say, you hear it and interpret it. You don’t necessarily have to like what you hear, or agree with it, but at least give it a chance to be heard.
Be receptive. There is no question that we put hard work into what we do as professionals. And being a professional usually means being very passionate about what you do. Put the ego aside, and understand that the feedback may not necessarily may be wrong. If someone felt compelled enough to pick up the phone and make a complaint, there has to be some valid reasoning behind it.
And finally… be positive. We all know that we are supposed to look at the glass half full as opposed to half empty – well do the same with criticism. So someone wasn’t happy with your performance or your idea – take that as a positive. At least you tried something and worked for something, you cannot make everyone happy all the time. But you certainly cannot let those unhappy people ruin your positive outlook.
I have had many trials and errors in my career. I have been recognized and appreciated, and I have been told that the work I presented was poorly done and the client wasn’t happy. But the common traits I have noticed is that I stayed resilient, I listened well, I reacted rationally, and I stayed positive. I took the negative feedback in stride and I turned it into success – and everyone is capable of such success.