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Ouch! 4 ways to survive harsh feedback

Ginger Leadership Communications

You’ve poured your heart and soul out to 100 audience members. Presented inspiring, moving words with passion and much preparation. Upon reading your feedback you realize that 99% really connected to you and your message and 1%… Well that one percent really gave it to you good. Harsh, tough, brutal are just three of the adjectives you could use to describe this review in mixed company.

Congratulations- you’ve just received a bit of tough feedback

Actually it IS something to celebrate – it shows that you had enough of an impact for some (most) people to absolutely LOVE what you said and for others to think yikes, that was a challenge.

I’ve received plenty of harsh feedback in my time (sometimes fair, sometimes unfair), it’s something we all have to deal with. If you find yourself saying OUCH, know that it doesn’t have to sting for long. Here are four ways to survive harsh feedback:

1. Stay in the middle

  • In terms of drawing sensible lessons from feedback I tend to discount the most enthusiastic 5% and the least enthusiastic 5%. Usually either of those just show an extreme reaction that’s not very useful.
  • Focus on the majority of the audience and you’ll get a snapshot of how many people really engaged with your message. If 99 people got something and ONE didn’t… why are you focusing on that ONE person? If we fret over ONE reaction out of many then what does that tell us about ourselves?
  • Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone SHOULD like you – especially if your message is powerful. 

2. Let it grow… or let it go

  • What I always ask myself: “Can I learn from this feedback? Can I do something different to benefit my audience from this?” If the answer is no, I just let the feedback go.
  • Harsh criticism ca
    n lead to feelings of anger, defensiveness, and fear. Instead of resisting those feelings, explore them. Find out why it hurt so badly or how it tapped in to your own inner saboteur.
  • Looking at your own emotions can help to deal with this type of feedback. Does criticism make you hurt or defensive? Take a look at why and ways you can become less sensitive to such perceived attacks.
  • Role playing how you would handle criticism is also a useful tool as preparing increases confidence. Use this ‘negative’ experience as a way to “desensitise” yourself.

3. No really… it’s them, not you

  • You almost certainly triggered something in their shadow — not your issue to deal with. You may have hit their emotional hot spot, but it is THEIR sore spot – NOT yours. Allow the person to have their feelings and thoughts without internalizing them. Theirs was an emotional reaction to what you presented and that is exactly why you’re speaking in the first place. 
  • Some audience members, no matter how witty and engaging, how charming and persuasive, how dynamic and brilliant you are… will NOT like you. Matter of fact they might not like you because of all those things.Do what you can to engage your audience and don’t worry about those who fail to be impressed. That’s their issue, not yours.

4. But this last part IS about you…

  • Confidence ‘no matter who likes me’ derives from finding something that’s more important to you than simply being liked. This is the mark of a truly powerful speaker and it derives from developing true authenticity in your speaking.
  • As a speaker it’s important to become less defensive and more open.
  • Switch your focus to a message you deeply believe in, it’s no longer important whofeels uncomfortable or negative towards you on the way. Once you find something you believe in – something that goes beyond your desire to be loved – you will become bolder and more fearless than you thought possible.

Ironically, if you focus on sharing an authentic message that you believe in no matter what, you’ll find that your audience members  WILL connect with you. If you’re true to yourself you will attract the right people who can benefit for your message.

And those negative ones… well, they wouldn’t have liked you anyway.

Want more on how to overcome that harsh feedback (whether it be inside or out)? 

  1. Visualize success… This process is given in the confident public speaking eCourse “Battling the Nerves By Rewiring the Brain”. By developing confidence in yourself, you will become more likeable as a speaker.
  2. Tame your inner critic so you can change your internal dialogue away from worrying about the negative, towards supporting your confidence. Again, boosting your confidence will help you to impress.
  3. Freshness is a key quality of a speaker who engages a room. Develop freshness to avoid being BORING as a speaker
  4. Learn how to be persuasive (from our four-part blog series), so that you can turn a public speaking situation round to your advantage whilst also being authentic.

If you’re eager to become a more inspiring, confident speaker, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources.

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