You’ve worked hard on a project, staying up many late nights and crafting what you think is the perfect solution to the client’s challenge. You are ready to show your manager, and you sit down and go through your thought processes. But as the conversation progresses, you sink lower and lower in your chair. Your manager is dismissive and underwhelmed with your work—they want you to go back to the drawing board. You’re left wondering—how could this happen?
Many of us have a hard time accepting #feedback. We understand that we need feedback in order to make the work better. But sometimes when we receive criticism, we feel overly sensitive and unsure how to gain back confidence. Everyone’s been there—a manager is underwhelmed with your work and tells you, bluntly. No one enjoys being in that position, but here are six things to remember the next time you feel extra sensitive about your work:
Know This is Temporary
It’s hard to remember, but #negativefeedback is only temporary. There will be many more projects along the way: focus on the long term. Look at this moment as a short-term situation, take a deep breath, and try to listen to what your manager is telling you. Even though you may want to tune out, work to understand where the feedback is coming from. Look at the experience almost like a science project: dispassionately examine the results so that you can learn. Remember: this was just one of many projects.
Take Care of Yourself
If you feel extra sensitive about work, it may be because you’re not taking care of yourself: getting enough sleep, exercise, or nutritious food. Are you running a marathon every day with no breaks to offer you shifts in perspective? It’s easy to say that you will eat better, exercise, or meditate: it’s harder to implement those actions into your routine.
Try this: schedule self-care into your day. I worked with one client who was extremely busy and needed to add boundaries around his time. He decided he would set up his calendar in 15-minute increments. He was sure to include 15 minutes of “white space” just for himself in the calendar, even during times of high activity. Scheduling self-care and white space into your calendar will help you gain perspective on your work and take criticism in stride.
Tough it Out
My mother used to tell me to “tough it out.” She said that sometimes my feelings would be hurt, and there wasn’t any way around it; I just needed to tough it out and find a positive way to channel my emotions. While this wasn’t a long-term strategy for happiness, it did help in the moment. Everyone gets their feelings hurt now and then; remember that your feelings are not unique to you, and move on.
Share Your Feelings
It may be appropriate to share with your manager that you feel sensitive about the feedback. Sometimes managers are more concerned with efficiency than delivering feedback tactfully. Try being honest about your feelings and asking your manager for more context. You may learn valuable information: for instance, perhaps your manager is being tough because he sees your potential. Or, you could be being groomed for a meeting with troublesome board members, and your manager wants to prepare you for their tough questions.
Share your feelings in the name of transparency—not seeking to manipulate your manager so that they will communicate differently. Honesty and transparency can breed more of the same; you may learn valuable information your manager would not otherwise share.
Ask: What Can I Learn?
Choose not to look at difficult feedback as a win/lose situation, with you having “lost” for displeasing your manager. After all, you can’t always be right, and lively debate and conflict can lead to great work. When you are feeling sensitive about feedback, view the situation as a learning experience. Put your pride away and ask how you can learn from the input. By looking at the scenario from a learning perspective, you’ll gain a tremendous opportunity to grow and be better able to tackle similar problems in the future.
Look at the Past
Difficult feedback can sting. To help ease the sting, make sure you have a folder of the excellent work you’ve accomplished over the years; pull it out and give yourself a confidence boost. Instead of looking only at the negative, look also at what is going well. Look at your entire body of work and see all of the great projects, #emails, and accolades you’ve received. Remember; you are much more than this one moment. Give yourself a break.
While we can all feel sensitive when our hard work is not appreciated, consider what you can learn from the feedback. Try to remove your emotions and view the input objectively. Use all of your experiences—positive and negative—to grow.
Forbes.com – Feb 25, 2021
Anne Sugar – Contributor