How to Give and Respond To Negative Feedback

    Negative feedback is healthy for a business. While you should strive for more positive feedbacks, you shouldn't dread negative feedback so much. This is essentially because negative feedback tells you where to improve your business.

    Feedback, whether positive or negative, can have an impact on any working professional, helping them assess what they are doing right or where there is room for improvement. 

    In a professional environment, feedback is an integral part of employees’ professional outgrowth.

    This can have a tremendous impact on the organization continuous improvement when delivered correctly.

    Feedback is a two-way part. While a lot of people like to hear positive reviews or feedback, they usually don't want to hear or are scared of the other part.

    Research shows that negative feedback is a key driver of performance and leadership effectiveness and when delivered correctly, it can be valuable to both employees and business owners.  

    Criticism or negative feedback can lead to increased performance, productivity and overall effectiveness when implemented correctly.

    It can be hard not to take negative reviews or feedback personally. That's why it is important to build up strategies to help manage and maintain your emotions when handling negative feedback while taking into considerations the criticism and use them to improve your performance. 

    The way you respond to criticism is not only a reflection of your professionalism, but also of your ability to accept, learn, and grow. 

    This blog post is going to be about how to give and respond to negative feedback as well as responding to negative reviews from customers.

    How To Respond To Negative Feedback

    How to Give and Respond To Negative Feedback
    How to Give and Respond To Negative Feedback 2

    1. Pause and Reflect on What You've Been Told 

    Instead of getting defensive or angry when you hear negative feedback, pause and reflect on what you have been told.

    This gives you time to reflect or determine if the feedback applies to you or if it is a criticism based on inaccurate information.

    After you have thought it through, and you have some thoughts you would like the other party to hear, probably evidence that you have improved or have achieved what the person is giving you feedback about.  

    Calmly communicate these thoughts to the other party and take the negative feedback constructively. 

    Then, have a plan of action so the person who gave it to you has a timeline for when the issue will be resolved.

    2. Never Take Negative Feedback Personally

    Negative feedback most times are not giving to hurt you, but they are giving so that you can work and improve on what the feedback is about.

    Research shows that if negative feedback is delivered appropriately, it is effective at improving performance.

    Meaning that if giving in the right way, negative feedback can be turned into an incredibly powerful tool for increasing employee engagement and productivity.

    When people give you negative feedback or negative review, try to stay detached from the feedback and look at it objectively and separating yourself personally from the issue. 

    This will allow you to see the problem without your emotions getting in the way of a response and solution.  

    If you filter a place where you have made a genuine mistake, it is helpful to be transparent and acknowledge it.

    Remember criticisms are not meant to bring about your downfall or to tell you how useless you are rather it is an opportunity for you to improve, learn, work on your flaws and be better.   

    3. See the Positive Side of Every Negative Feedback

    After your conversation with your boss, colleague, professor etc you now know where you have to improve and work on yourself.

    The next thing is to create a plan on how you want to achieve those things. 

    Start by setting a goal for yourself and make sure you are keeping track of these goals to know how far you have progressed. 

    Then try to achieve one small goal each day and one big goal each week, then follow up with your boss once you feel like you’ve improved and met your goals.

    After you are satisfied with your progress, you can go back to your boss or supervisor to ask if they have seen any observable changes. 

    People feel honoured and appreciative when you take in what they said and are more willing to help you when you are gracious and humble about yourself.

    4. Ask for Items that can Aid You in Improving Yourself When Receiving Feedback 

    When your boss or professor is giving you feedback about your performance and he or she gave you some tips on how to go about the problems, you can ask them for materials or tools that can be used to solve this particular issue.

    For example, if your boss tells you to work on your design and create something groundbreaking, you can ask him for some apps that might aid you in achieving this task.

    Another example if your professor points out some loopholes in your grammar and spellings or for you to use more textbooks in your citations or references, you can ask him or her for a textbook you can use to make your work easier.  

    In case they don't supply you with those tools or materials, you can explain that you’ll identify the next steps on your own, but will need a bit of time to research what can make your work easier.

    Then let them know they can always come to you with ideas if they have them and you’d be open to hearing them.

    For example  “Thank you for your feedback on my research work sir. Could you please give me some materials on the American foreign policy or suggest where I can get some for the purpose of proper referencing”

    5 Ask questions when responding to Feedback

    Anytime someone gives you feedback on a particular performance, be sure to ask questions. When you ask questions, you get the most out of your feedback and get the desired benefit. It also shows that you are willing to know more about your flaws and how you can improve on them. 

     For Example, you can ask the following questions;

    • What areas aren’t I improving on my design?
    • How can I get better at removing background?
    • What do you think I need to get better at this?
    • Are there videos or pdf file on colour theory?
    • What experts can I follow on social media?

    Instead of being on the defensive or acting impulsive, you can ask questions to get a better understanding of what the person is trying to tell you. 

    6.Take Immediate Action

    Negative feedback or criticism is supposed to help improve you in whatever area you are lagging behind, but if you don't take action, it becomes meaningless.

    Taking action is the most important part of handling negative feedback.   

    Take accountability for the areas you need to improve and take action for the areas which have been identified as your weakness.

    Doing this will impact you positively and enrich your professional career so you can enjoy positive feedback from your boss on those areas.

    For example, you can say “Thank you for bringing this to my notice. I will get to it right away

    How To Give Negative Feedback

    In an organization or work environment, handling feedback is equally as important as how to give them.  As a manager, you might hate giving negative feedback to your employees because it might make you uncomfortable or even sound like a jerk.

    Giving feedback is an integral part of employees’ professional growth and development which can have a tremendous impact on the organization's continuous improvement when delivered correctly.

    Here is How to Give Negative Feedback In a Professional Environment 

    1.Understand the Person Receiving the Feedback 

    Although feedback is necessary for a professional environment, everyone reacts to it differently.  

    While some employees might be receptive and understanding, others might take it differently and even personal.  

    That's why you need to build a strong and positive employee/employer relationship with your employees. The more your employees feel they can trust you, the more you would help them reach their potential. 

    As a small business owner, the unique relationship you build with your employees helps you understand how each of them responds to certain situations. 

    Consider delivering the feedback in a way that will benefit that individual. 

    While some employees may become defensive, help them remember that it is not a personal matter and only deliver feedback on their work behaviours and performance.

    2. Be Honest

    When giving reviews whether positive or negative, be honest and straightforward. You won't do your employees any good if you are sugarcoating their poor performance just because you don't want to hurt them or make them feel bad.

    Chances are the employee knows their performance is not up to expectations, so it’s important to be open, honest and transparent. 

    Be open and plain about their poor performance and where you need they have to adjust but be willing to help them overcome their challenges to improve their performance. 

    Employees are likely to be more receptive to the feedback if they’re honest and actively willing to help. 

    3. Deliver the Negative Feedback in a Secluded Area and in Person

    Naturally, many people don't want to give or receive negative feedback because it makes them uncomfortable and also the fear of hurting the other party's feelings.

    Never give feedback to an employee in front of other employees. This can embarrass the employee and result in the feedback not being well received.  

    The feedback is being given to one individual, so the meeting should be as such. Conduct a private one-on-one meeting in an office or conference room. 

    Doing so will show your respect for the employee and encourage them to be more open when responding to your feedback.

    4. Be Specific in Your Feedback

    When giving negative feedback to an employee, it's important to keep the focus on the specific behaviour you want to change rather than the employee as a person. 

    Focusing on the behaviour or the method the employee is using to handle a particular project makes it easier for the employee to receive the feedback and can help prevent them from becoming defensive or feeling as if they are being attacked. 

    For example, rather than saying “you did the design incorrectly,” you could say, “the elements you used in this designs are too much, so let's focus on using three elements to make the design simple”

    5. Suggest Solutions 

    When you give criticisms or negative feedback, make sure you offer some advice on how the employee can improve on the said area. You can recommend books, courses, youtube videos and much more to help the employee. 

    You and the employee can agree on a plan for improving their performance by identifying some goals and objectives, outline any specific actions employees need to take.

    Once you and the employee agree on a performance strategy, step back and let them implement the agreed-upon actions. 

    However, you should establish a date and time to review their performance and follow up on any remedial actions.

    Follow-ups hold employees accountable and help increase the probability the employee will make the necessary performance improvements. Make sure to recognize employees for implementing the changes effectively.

    How to Respond to Negative Feedback from Your Boss

    1.When You Have Made a Mistake

    Everybody makes mistake, but how we choose to deal and learn from that mistake is what matters. Instead of being defensive, making excuses and blaming other's for your mistake, why not take responsibility. By humbly owning up to your mistake you will demonstrate that you are willing to learn and grow. 

    For example, you can say: 

    “Thank you for pointing out those grammatical errors. I will fix that right away”

    How to Respond to Negative Feedback from a Customer

    As a business owner, negative reviews should not be a new thing to you and you know if you don't manage it very well it can damage the credibility of your business.

    A negative review can happen regardless of the quality of your service or business or how many people love your business. 

    Sometimes, You might want to overlook a negative review, especially if most of your customer feedback is positive. However, you still need to address that one bad feedback because every customer matters.

    How to Handle Negative Reviews from a Customer 

    1. Acknowledge the Issue

    The first thing you need to do when replying or addressing customer complaints is to acknowledge them. 

    Even when you feel the customer is wrong, you must acknowledge his/her issue. 

    For example, you can begin your response like this:

    “Thank you for providing your feedback and letting us know about this issue.”

    Thank the customer for bringing the situation to your attention.

    2. Apologize

    After acknowledging the customer's complaints, go ahead and apologize for the inconveniences the customer might have experienced as a result of your service. 

    Even when you feel the customer is wrong, you should always take the first step by apologizing. By apologizing you are not only appeasing your customers but you are showing them that you value them and want the best service for them. :

    For example, you can say: “Dear esteemed customer, we apologize that our service did not satisfy your expectations. We set a high priority for our customers and we are truly sorry to hear that you did not experience this when you interacted with our service. Your satisfaction is our number one priority”.

    This apology is sincere, straight to the point, and demonstrates that your business sets a high standard and intends to deliver.

    3. Offer a Resolution

    While it is important to be empathetic to your customer's situation by acknowledging and apologizing, that might not be enough.

    You can further appease them by scheduling a meeting with you or your customer representative, offer them a discount, do a giveaway or whatever applies to your situation.   

    For example, if you are an auto mechanic and a customer’s review about your service came out unintentionally uneven, offer to have them come in at a convenient time to have it fixed at no charge or a discount. 

    You can say: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we apologize for the inconvenience. You can come in anytime this week to have it fixed at no cost. Once again we are sorry for the inconvenience.”   

    This reply has acknowledged and apologized for the situation and at the same time appease the customer.

    A Negative Review Response Template

    Hi James,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, James.

    We are truly sorry that your recent experience at Zanders Automobile was not a pleasant one. We set a high standard for ourselves and are truly sorry to hear that standard was not met in your interaction with our business. Your satisfaction is our number one priority. Your break oil that we didn't change when you brought your car to our store is unacceptable and we apologize for that. If you are free this week you can bring your car to our store and we would fix it at no extra charge.

    We assure you that we have taken the necessary steps and ensure that this incident never repeats itself.  

    Again, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope you will give us another chance to make things right. Please come in or call us and I will personally attend to you.


    Jeff Simon


    Negative feedback is healthy for a business. While you should strive for more positive feedbacks, you shouldn't dread negative feedback so much. This is essentially because negative feedback tells you where to improve your business. So, see every negative feedback as an avenue to improve your services.

    Opeyemi Olagoke
    Opeyemi Olagoke
    Olagoke Opeyemi Dare is a writer, digital marketer, and researcher with over 2 years of experience as a researcher. He is currently an intern at Spark Connect where he focuses on the fundamentals of digital marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. He has written different articles and papers for various blogs and academic research projects respectively.

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