How negative feedback is always an opportunity

Two women pass, heading in different directionsAs you work to bring your change into the world, some people will inevitably tell you that you’re doing it wrong. They’ll say you’re too early or too late, too simple or too complicated, too shallow or too deep, going about it in the wrong way, in the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time.

Listen to them, thank them. And then do it anyway.

And as you do so, remember that it has taken your whole life for you to come to the insights and understanding you now have and it has taken them their whole life to come to theirs. 

Sthe fact that you both have different viewpoints might mean one of four things:

  1. They are far ahead of you in the way they understand the world, so the changes you are suggesting are no longer relevant to them.
    (This likely means that their feedback is encouraging you to move forward faster.)
  2. They are far behind you and not yet ready to understand the changes you are suggesting.
    (In which case, what would it take for them to catch up? How long would that take? How much effort would it require from you? And is that a priority for you?)
  3. They are exactly the people you are trying to influence but they do not understand the way you are communicating your vision.
    (So listen, learn, and adapt your message to make it more relevant to them.)
  4. They are simply on a different path. They are headed towards a different purpose with different values.
    (Your work will never be relevant for them so don’t try to force it.)

What seems at first like ‘negative’ feedback is always an opportunity for you: either to save wasted time or to improve your message.

So when someone brings you feedback, listen, thank them, and then do it anyway: either the same as before or in a new and improved way.

Has someone given you what seemed like negative feedback recently? Is that an opportunity for you to improve what you are doing and become more of who you want to become? Or should you simply ignore it?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões via

2 Replies to “How negative feedback is always an opportunity”

  1. Well said – dealing positively with one own’s emotions when getting “negative” feedback is key to proceed on the path oneself has envisioned to go. Perhaps some pivoting, reframing, or new wording will be necessary. Nevertheless we are all born to learn a life long.

    • Thanks Ralf, I’m glad you found it useful.
      The reframing you talk about is explicitly covered in Chapter 2 of inner leadership.
      And as you also say, knowing our Purpose clearly provides a ‘lighthouse’ that we can use to orient ourselves in the deepest storm. This is Chapter 5.

      With just those two tools then life long learning suddenly becomes a lot easier 🙂

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