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Career Communication

How to React to Negative Feedback at Work

negative feedback

You’ve just received some negative feedback about your communication at work.

What should you do?

Read this post!

In my day to day work, assisting CEOs,  managers and emerging leaders to fine-tune their communication agility, I encounter many individuals who tell me all manner of things they’ve been informed about their communication weaknesses. 

This post will give you a few tips you can start applying today if you have received negative or even constructive feedback about your communication at work.

Accepting criticism is part of professional life. It's how you respond that counts.

Leadership opens the door to increased negative feedback

I hate to break it to you but if you’ve set your sights on a leadership position, get ready for the ride. Once an individual steps up into a higher position, there is always increased scope for negative feedback. So let’s work through some science-backed approaches to navigating push-backs, unsolicited feedback and disappointing conversations.

This blog is best digested in 3 steps. First, check the tips below, then stay tuned for a short video tutorial (coming soon) and lastly make sure you pick up Your Quick Communication Kit  Communication Growth Plan for Work to guide your communication more closely.  

You might want to bookmark this page to refer back to later – because it could take more than one sitting!

  1. Read the tactics below (below)
  2. Watch the Live tutorial (linked)
  3. Pick up a copy of theQuick Communication Kitreview your assertive, persuasive and diplomacy skills in more detail.
  4. If you like what you’ve learned, and want to gain more insights into your speaking, check out my best selling High-Performance Communication Audit– enrolments are currently open.

We can learn to develop our communication style for it to be healthier and more effective.

Here are some tips on how to respond if someone gives you negative feedback about your speaking at work:

negative feedback

1. Consider who the feedback came from

When someone makes a comment about your communication, please consider how valid their opinion is. 

Not all people have insight into the tools for effective communication. 

They may have your best interests at heart in providing feedback, but chances are they are not across the research around corporate communication strategies.

2. Validate the feedback and seek specific objective information

If someone tells you- “You need to work on your communication” You must be able to clarify precisely WHAT it is you need to work on. A study conducted by Stanford University showed females tend to get unclear feedback that can interfere with career progression. So I want you to seek precise feedback. 

negative feedback

3. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, become curious

It’s common to feel uncomfortable when you receive feedback about your speaking because you’re using communication to express who you are. So please remember Strength lies in differences.

There’s a massive array of acceptably diverse communication in the corporate sector. 

In fact, homogenous workplaces tend to lack innovation and engagement. 

With this in mind, if you’re receiving any form of feedback about your communication that disregards the benefits of diversity, you need to consider getting input from elsewhere. 

Ask yourself the questions:

  • What is it that makes me uncomfortable about this feedback?
  • How does this feedback matter?
  • Is this feedback coming from someone who is equipped to understand communication behaviour scientifically or is it purely opinion based?
  • Does this person’s opinion actually matter to me?

4. Screen for discrimination

Disregard comments that show lack of diversity such as comments around your 

  • expressiveness and authenticity (who are they to judge)
  • temperament (again not their business)

And specifically,

  • Comments around your cultural or ethnic background or even your accent (this is an equity and diversity issue that is never acceptable).

Also, is there a gender issue at stake like:

  • mansplaining
  • brosplaining?

Does Your Career Communication need work?

Everyone can improve their communication, even strong communicators.

Dealing with complex conversations, difficult colleagues, stressful meetings or important presentations doesn’t have to feel impossible.

If you’d like to get more tools for your career based communication so that you can increase your leadership potential and interact with precision and impact, consider enrolling in my High-Performance Communication audit to uncover the turn-key your speaking needs.


Take a moment now to think about the feedback you’ve received about your speaking at work. 

Did it burn? 

Is it still valid?

Make sure you’re not holding on to any feedback that’s impacting your confidence. 

Chances are, you might have acquired the new skills already, but if you’re unsure about how your communication skills are tracking for your career give a communication assessment with a specialist some serious thought. They will advocate for what is working well and give you actionable tips to set your career ship on a smooth course.

Want to learn more career skills to amplify your success? The High-Performance Communication Audit helps you to discover the 1 Thing Holding you back from High-Performance Communication


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About the Author

Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Consultant, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact. 

Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance.

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.


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