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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

How to Deal with Harsh Feedback

Whether during your performance review or as an effort to "help," you may have received unexpectedly harsh criticism. Don't give in to your first instinct – whether to hide or argue. Instead, follow these six steps so you can respond constructively:

  1. Focus on your breath. Breathe in for four seconds and out for seven. This will remove your focus from the perceived threat.

  2. Label your emotions. This will activate the thinking part of your brain. An example is, “I’m feeling hurt and ashamed.”

  3. Be curious. Imagine the conversation is about someone else, and ask for examples. "Help me understand…." is an excellent way to word this.

  4. Recover. Tell the person that you need to reflect and that you’ll respond when you can. Don’t agree or disagree right away with what you’ve heard. Take some time to process and evaluate it.

  5. Think. Think about the feedback, including where the truth is.

  6. Repeat. If necessary, talk to the person again to get more information.


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