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The Next Time You Receive Tough Feedback, Do This One Thing

July 30, 2018 • Uncategorized

Receiving negative feedback can be tough, but there is a right way to respond. So often our gut reaction to criticism is to get defensive and immediately discredit the source and the feedback itself. And it’s in those moments that we instead need to trade defensiveness for curiosity. We can’t have a productive conversation with someone if we are defensive. Defensiveness is the outward sign of inward insecurity.

A Lesson From Athletes

As a sports agent for 20 years and a former competitive athlete myself, I’ve seen that athletes might have an advantage when it comes to receiving tough feedback because they are used to getting critiqued. In sports, it’s common practice- win or lose- to break down the film and seek feedback on areas where you can improve. It’s understood that the feedback is a way towards growth, not a personal criticism. We need to apply that athlete mindset to the workplace, and embrace feedback.

Do This One Thing Next Time

In the business world, we’re not as comfortable with receiving negative criticism because it’s not engrained in the culture like it is in sports. But in my podcast interview with Kat Cole, she had a great tip that she picked up from a restaurant franchisor early on in her career. Her company was opening a new restaurant in Argentina, and amidst the challenges, they were receiving a lot of negative feedback. The franchisor gave Kat some advice that she still embraces to this day: “When someone criticizes you, your first reaction should be to assume that it is accurate.”  That may seem counterintuitive, but the point is, if you do this, you get to the “why” faster. It’s a far more mature way to respond and lets you dig in to what’s behind the criticism.

Your Game Changer Takeaway

The next time you receive negative feedback, assume that the person talking to you is right. Usually there is some truth to be found in feedback, but we have to be receptive to seeking it. Be sure to stay open in both your verbal and non-verbal communications, because tone and body language speak volumes. Embrace the why that’s at the root of the feedback and find out as much data as you can. From there, determine if the feedback is right. If it is, change your behaviors. If it’s not, then own that decision. We all know that tough feedback is imperative for growth. How you respond to tough feedback – and what you do with that information – is just as important.


The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.