Customer Satisfaction

Approaching Negative Feedback


Receiving negative feedback is rarely something people look forward to. When receiving criticism, it can feel discouraging. Oftentimes, you may feel as though your intentions have been misunderstood or that you have been judged unfairly.

The way you handle negative feedback, however, can greatly impact your success. Here are some tips for processing negative feedback:

Men Talking

Listen for Understanding

“The best way to deal with negative feedback is to listen. Often, when people are upset, they just want to feel heard,” Jack Jostes, president of Ramblin Jackson said.

  • Instead of planning what you are going to say next, listen carefully to everything that is said.

  • If you are tempted to respond while it is your turn to listen, jot down a short note about the person’s comment to help you remember it for when it is your turn to speak.

  • Restate what you think the respondent was saying to verify you understand.

  • Ask clarifying questions.

Consider the Feedback

Feedback can come in many forms and from individuals who may be calm or hostile. Some comments may be valid and others simply may not. However, in most cases, feedback is given because the respondent desires your success.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the feedback a fact or an opinion?

  • Is the criticism accurate?

  • Is this something that can help me become better?

  • What was the respondent’s intent for sharing this criticism?

“Receiving both positive and negative feedback allows me to have a barometer of how I’m doing so that I can do more of what is working or correct perceptions or actions to improve a situation,” Bret Peters, CMO of Fig Leaf Software said on

Respond with Gratitude

  • Providing feedback requires time on the respondent’s part so be sure to thank each person who comments.

  • Ask if there is anything else they want to share with you.

  • Show appreciation for pointing out areas that need work. Never approach a respondent by asking why they shared certain feedback. This ineffective tactic will often result in an awkward exchange and the respondent will usually try to downplay their negative comments.

  • If they ask for follow up on an issue, keep them updated.