How do you view negative feedback?

Look, we all hate being told we're wrong. Just a hint of criticism can easily stir our emotions and cause us to close our ears, and our minds.

But a simple mindset change can cause you to learn from others, without allowing their negative comments to break you.

That's why I love this recent advice posted by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner:

Even negative feedback can be a gift. Take it seriously but don't let it define you.

Define yourself.

Well said.

I've written extensively on the value of negative feedback, specifically in terms of emotional intelligence--the ability to make emotions work for you, rather than against you.

The truth is, much of the criticism we receive is delivered in a way that's less than ideal. Sometimes it's downright brutal--not to mention wrong.

Feedback like that stirs up negative emotions. For many, the natural instinct is to shut it out.

But even if it's not delivered constructively, criticism should still be considered "a gift."

Why is that?

Because most criticism is rooted in truth, meaning there's something you can take away from it, some insight you can use to improve yourself.

And even if the criticism is completely off base, it's still extremely valuable--because it helps you to understand the perspective of those who see the world differently from you.

By viewing negative feedback as a learning opportunity, you can:

  • confirm the validity of your ideas, and prepare yourself for similar criticism in the future;
  • better craft your message, in a way that reaches those with varying perspectives;
  • better identify your target audience; and
  • change and adapt when appropriate.

In all of these ways, criticism can help you improve.

But as Weiner points out, it's vital not to let negative feedback define you.

This is important because we could easily become crushed by the comments of naysayers, to the point that we give up. Or, we may spend more time and energy trying to prove others wrong that we get distracted from our strengths and eventually become something we're not.

So, when you're on the receiving end of negative feedback, don't waste time thinking about would'ves, could'ves, or should'ves. Neither should you crawl into a corner and feel sorry for yourself.

Instead, ask yourself the following:

  • How can I use this feedback to improve myself?
  • Putting my personal feelings aside, what can I learn from this alternate perspective?

If you can do that effectively, negative feedback becomes a gift--one you can use to become the best version of yourself.