Getting a bad review at work can be very discouraging but it happens to the best of us. When you get a bad review, you might feel a combination of anger, anxiety, shock, fear, and worry that your job might be on shaky grounds.

When you receive a negative review, how do you handle it? Successful professionals use negative performance reviews as a reality check that launches them to greater heights.

Here are tips to help you respond better to a bad performance review:

1. Resist the urge to react immediately

Give yourself time to calm down before you do or say anything. Getting a bad review can be upsetting especially if you feel you have put in your best or you are used to getting good reviews. Acting in the heat of the moment could lead you to say or do things you would regret later.

2. Don’t dismiss your feelings

It’s easier for you to dismiss your feelings and move on like nothing happened, or try to rationalise your boss’s feedback. This helps you protect your ego and reduce the pain you might be feeling. It’s important you allow yourself to experience the negative emotions associated with the bad review, this would motivate you to do better next time and to avoid making similar mistakes.

3. Reanalyse the review

Take some time to calmly and honestly look at the review and try to understand it. Ask yourself if the feedback is truly unjustified or if you are just offended by it. Write down a list of questions of things you don’t understand, identifying what you find confusing.

4. Ask questions

Once you have cooled off and dealt with your emotions, it’s time to ensure you understand the review. This might include asking your boss questions. When asking questions, be careful about your tone so you don’t come off as confrontational. Ask as many questions as you can and also ask that your boss gives you examples of how he or she would prefer you to respond to various situations.

5. Set clear goals

Now that you have spoken with your boss and you understand the areas that need to be worked on, set goals that would enable you to work on them. Make sure your goals are clear, attainable but challenging. Aim to achieve each goal before your next review. It’s a good idea to run them by your boss to be sure you are on the right track and to incorporate feedback correctly.

6. Ask for ongoing feedback

To know how you are doing and to be sure you are on track, schedule regular check-ins with your boss to get their feedback. This will provide you with information that would help you course-correct and also show your boss that you are eager to improve. You could also ask a trusted co-worker to help with constant feedback, they would also act as an accountability partner.

7. Be consistent

If you are trying to change your boss’s opinion about you, then you have to be intentional about developing and demonstrating new behaviour. You also have to realise that it might take a while for people to start to notice the changes and believe that they are going to stick.

Receiving a performance review that you’re not too pleased with, is part of life. Many successful professionals have had to deal with this . The important thing is to make a conscious effort to use every negative review as a catalyst for your career development. Take the feedback and ensure that you keep getting better; your career will be better off for it in the long run.


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