Published date: November 20, 2019
Last modified: December 11, 2019

The right way to deal with negative feedback

In your darkest hours when you’re feeling low, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced the same phenomena that has become the subject of an innumerable amount of jokes and memes at the hands of the Millennial generation; a situation in which just when you need some positivity, your brain decides to mull over past instances of getting into altercations, being rudely shouted at or other such unpleasantries. It’s almost like your own brain is set on sabotaging your own wellbeing.

This, according to Clifford Nass a Professor of Communication at Stanford University, is because negative information is storied more vividly in our brains. “This is a general tendency for everyone. Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail,” he recently told the New York Times.

“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” said Professor Nass, who co-authored The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships. “Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones,” he concluded.

But what does this mean for business leaders?

It means that, if you’re seeing the feedback you’re getting in a negative light, it will probably continue to ruminate around your brain, instead of being stored as good or bad advice and moved past. This is why it’s essential to understand why feedback is so important, and deal with it properly. This means learning to wire your brain differently to view feedback for what it is – a chance to learn and progress, and not something to resent and hinder yourself with.

Secondly, you need to develop hard outcomes from such feedback. If you resolve to learn and develop, you’ll start to welcome feedback as a key tactic for self-improvement. You can do this by taking your actionable suggestion and writing a short blurb of why you believe you could benefit from it, and how you plan on doing so.

Lastly, it may be your natural instinct to simply shut down those looking to highlight feedback. Often, those giving us feedback are people that we work with on a regular basis; showing that you can take on board what they’re saying and deliver a positive outcome from it is a powerful business tool that will not go unnoticed.