Dan's annual review appears to be going well...until his manager delivers some negative feedback about his performance.

In a state of shock, Dan spits back, "You're making this up! I've never done that!"

Before his manager has a chance to reply, Dan angrily storms out of the conference room.

GIF of animated red character exploding fire from his head, yelling angrily.

Don't be like Dan.

The next time you receive negative or constructive performance feedback at work, remember these 5 tips to help you manage it in a healthy way.

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1. Take Your Time Responding

In the immediate moment, try putting your feelings into words. For example, you could acknowledge disappointing or even shocking feedback by saying, "I'm a bit taken aback."

If you don't know how to respond, you could say, "I need some time to process this information."

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  • Actively listen. Be sure you listen to everything the person has to say.

  • Give yourself grace. Allow yourself time to grieve and process the information.

  • Control your emotions. Keep your response professional by refraining from blowing up like Dan did.

Flaticon Icon Don't

  • React right away. Though you may be upset, give yourself some time to think about what you want to say.

  • Take it personally. Negative professional feedback isn't a commentary on your character. Don't let it define you.

2. Thank the Person Who Delivered the Feedback

Before concluding the initial feedback conversation, be sure to thank the person who shared the feedback with you.

Let them know you appreciate their time and attention in helping you learn and develop your skills.

GIF of woman (Queen Latifah)  smiling and  pointing at the camera. Text reads Thank You!

Don't be defensive or argumentative.

If you respond in a defensive or argumentative manner, they might not be willing to share feedback (negative or positive) with you in the future.

3. Reflect and Interpret the Feedback

Spend some time processing the feedback. What can you learn?

Collecting additional data can help you understand and accept your feedback.

If you don't understand the feedback, consider:

  • Asking for examples. You can always ask the person who delivered your feedback for examples of the issues or behavior described in the feedback.

  • Seeking alternative perspectives. Ask a trusted colleague or two if they noticed the behavior described in the feedback.

Image of two colleagues having a discussion. Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

4. Take Action on the Feedback

After you've interpreted the feedback:

  • Identify the parts of the feedback that are actionable.

  • Create a plan to address the performance issues you want to work on

  • Ask your manager to review your plan of action to ensure you've identified the right actions

Honesty is a very expensive gift.

— Warren Buffet, business mogul

GIF of hand coming out of a cardboard computer handing someone a gift.


Negative feedback is often referred to as a "gift." Why would someone say this? Select all that apply.

5. Follow Up

Once you've taken action on the feedback, let the person who delivered the feedback know what steps you've taken to improve.

GIF of man pulling out scroll from pocket and letting it unroll across the floor.

Scenario: Kim's Performance Review

Kim received feedback during her performance review that her reports often contain typos. Kim lets her boss know that she will:

  • Proofread her work more carefully in the future

  • Run her work through a grammar checking tool

  • Ask her coworker to look over her reports

Quiz: Let's Help Dan!

Dan's manager delivered feedback regarding the mistakes Dan's been making in the weekly sales report. The manager shared that Dan's careless mistakes could easily be avoided. How should Dan respond to that feedback?

Flaticon Icon Dan should create a checklist to ensure he remembers all the steps involved in preparing the sales report. Next, he should let his manager know that he references the checklist each time he generates the report.

Flaticon Icon Dan should let his manager know he's preparing the sales report the way he was trained. If his manager wants it done differently, someone should update the training documentation before the next report is due.


How should Dan respond to his negative feedback? Select the healthier response.

Take Action

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