Credit: Missy Schmidt (Hampton Roads Partnership on Flickr)/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

After plunging a lot of energy into a work situation, most people look forward with hopes receiving positive feedback for a job well done. However, while one hopes for affirmative feedback, sometimes this isn't always the response received and negative feedback is given instead.

If this happens it is important to remember, most of the time feedback is not about the individual. The majority of the time what is perceived as negative feedback is usually intended by the person offering the feedback to be constructive criticism. Often the intention is to help the person improve upon a deliverable or give a stronger performance.

Receiving Negative Feedback

Criticism is usually perceived as a negative, and in some cases it is.  However, constructive criticism is something else entirely. The word constructive is associated with an intention to help.  Constructive criticism by definition means "criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solutions." 1

By focusing on the constructive part of this definition, it can be a little  easier to accept negative comments as positive reinforcements. Additionally, these types of comments can instead be perceived as a way to improve. In the workplace, this can mean creating a dynamite deliverable giving a stunning performance or developing something entirely new.

While constructive criticism sometimes feels disappointing and initial reactions by a person may not be receptive, it is important to understand this type of reaction is natural human behavior.  It is normal to feel frustrated as well, however, it is important not to dwell on it.

"It's normal to be happy when praised or defensive when insulted, and it's normal to react accordingly, but you should also try to dispassionately look at what's being said and see if there are clues for your personal growth embedded in the praise or the vitriol. Pretend the person isn't talking about you, and try to read between the lines," says Alan Henry, in an article published on Lifehacker. 2

Look on the bright side, constructive criticism can be perceived as a window of opportunity - perhaps in a way not previously considered. Instead of getting defensive or becoming adverse to constructive suggestions, an alternative can be to turn it around and try to use the feedback as an opportunity. It does not matter what kind of job or project it is, in any kind of scenario there is always typically room for improvement.

Looking out a window
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Receiving feedback, positive or negative, can be a window of opportunity. You never know what might be beyond your immediate view.

New Viewpoints and Higher Levels of Innovation

Stepping outside the box and looking from the outward back in offers opportunity as well. Constructive criticism often contains a lot of truth, and being it usually comes from an objective perspective, this can open up a totally different viewpoint. As a result, feedback, even negative, can be considered a grand opportunity to make a more innovative development since it comes from an outside perspective.

With constructive criticism, it often helps to sit back and try to view situation objectively, avoiding hurt feelings or adverse reactions.  Often after considering the constructive comments of others, a golden opportunity can be found. Through integration of ideas and suggestions, it is not uncommon for people to find they have even higher levels of creativity to be further developed. This can make a deliverable or performance more innovative than it may have been from the start.

Consider the Critique

Rarely is it ever a good idea to shut out suggestions. Although, even if you do not think you agree, giving another person's opinion at least a consideration is worth the effort. You might learn something in the process. Consider that it is sometimes difficult to look at a job done with a level of objectivity because of a closeness that is often associated with a project or situation.

People who offer constructive criticism can often spot errors or gaps that are not as easily seen by the creator because they are not intimately involved with the project. As individuals, most of the time we are not our own best critique, and listening to the advice or suggestions of others may open up a world of potential.

[ Related Reading: A Look at the Problems and Dangers of Group-Think ]

Think About Realistic Views

If one or more people are giving constructive feedback, as noted above, it is important to consider the source. For instance, if you are planning to market a product or give a speech, how you are received is extremely important. If your critique person(s) is seeing things a certain way, chances are others who you are hoping to impress or make an impact on may see things the same way too.

Negative feedback often provides a realistic perspective of how others perceive what you are doing, be it writing, building or sharing. Herein lays the opportunity because you want to step forward with your best face on. By considering the critique and then perhaps looking for another opinion, you can avoid potential disaster because the opinions you collect are realistic views of what you are trying to accomplish.

Build Improvements

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of all when creating opportunity. Rarely is something ever perfect and by accepting constructive criticism for the helpful way it was intended to be, can help make a good project or job done even better.

By turning constructive criticism into opportunity, this is a great chance to turn a negative into a positive and yield lucrative and/or beneficial results. Just because a critic didn't embrace your deliverable or performance wholeheartedly doesn't mean there is something totally wrong with what you have accomplished; it may just need some tweaking.

Constructive criticism is an opportunity to not only improve and be innovative, it is also a great opportunity to learn and grow. Opening oneself up to other viewpoints, even if they differ from our own, can help a career or business experience stronger growth.

And, if after evaluating the negative feedback you still don't agree, accept it for what it is. Then move on. Don't stay frustrated because, in the long run, it will only likely hold you back.

Credit: martinak15 on Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Receiving constructive criticism can be frustrating, however, it can also be turned around into a positive if keeping an open mind.