Best Ways to Respond to Unfair Feedback at Work

I had a conversation with my boss early in my career that I now regret. She began by saying, “I want to give you feedback on your work.” Holding the list in front of her, she began to describe everything she thought I did wrong. She hardly made eye contact and spoke in an unruffled tone. As she spoke, my heart was pounding and I began to sweat. I was angry.

The first three were tasks for which I was not responsible; my colleague owned these duties. The rest of the reviews were unexpected because they were about results that others called quality. I worked for her for almost a year and she never pointed out that I was doing anything wrong. Not only did I feel abandoned, but half of it was completely wrong. While I corrected her on inaccurate points, I kept silent about other things. I left the meeting upset and depressed. I decided she was a bad boss, held a grudge against her, and quit my job soon after to go to graduate school.

Of course, I could blame my manager. Her approach to providing feedback was grim. However, I have since learned that we cannot control the abilities of our bosses. All we can control is our reaction to them. Moreover, bosses make mistakes – they are not perfect. But my biggest regret is that I didn’t talk about it. I did not stand up for myself, because I did not know how. Instead, I acted on impulse. Speaking up when you receive inaccurate or unfair feedback is a skill anyone can develop. I have and you can too. Here are some tips.

What to Say When Your Boss Criticizes Your Work

Often the first reaction to a review is to agree or disagree with it. Do neither. Instead, say thank you, even if it’s unfair or inaccurate. Most bosses are uncomfortable giving feedback and may fear your reaction. Words of gratitude will help neutralize emotions for both of you. You also demonstrate a willingness to listen, which indicates maturity and professionalism. It may sound like this: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

If you find your heart pounding or having a strong reaction, you can say, “Thank you. Can I have some time to think it over?” Giving yourself space and time to think about the feedback is helpful, and even better, showing that you’re taking it well.

Ask questions and take notes

With cooler emotions, it is easier to ask questions and have a dialogue. Look for examples and context. Ask about your manager’s expectations and about what you do, especially your job, that doesn’t live up to expectations. Get a clear idea of ​​the frequency of the problem. Is this a one-time issue or a recurring pattern of behavior?

The more you can understand how your boss evaluates you, the more targeted you will be able to address the issue. Also, keep in mind that this is an assessment of your work, not of you as a person. Focus on work. If you beat yourself up or keep feeling down, it won’t help you move forward.

Look for other reviews

Your manager’s opinion is a single data point. While this is important, it is still only one person’s point of view. Look for testimonials from trusted peers to gauge how important they are. Let’s say your boss thinks you’re always late for meetings, but you don’t agree. Ask your colleagues. If they agree, then you know it’s a big problem. If they don’t, then make sure you show up on time for every meeting with your manager from now on.

It is about the ability to adapt one’s behavior to the expectations of others. This is a skill that will serve you well throughout your career.

Take their place

Try to show a little empathy for your manager. It is a search for an understanding of their experience. Do they have a lot of workload? What kind of manager do they have ? Are they under a lot of pressure? When they gave you an unfair review, is it possible they were just having a bad day?

Giving your boss the benefit of the doubt isn’t just helpful; it’s humane. This was my biggest regret in my association. I remember my boss was under a lot of pressure and we all worked long hours. I could have given her more mercy, that is, to show kindness, although I thought that she did not deserve it. Instead, I held a grudge.

Be Intentional When Responding to Feedback

That was the advice I received many years later: Be clear to your boss that you are acting on him. Let’s say your boss thinks that you don’t know how to work in a team and don’t know how to communicate with a team. After working more closely with your colleagues, let your manager know. It might sound like this: “To keep you updated, I met with Alice today to discuss how our work is related. It was a good meeting and we plan to meet regularly.” Bosses are busy and may forget to pay attention to your efforts. Being obvious in your efforts can help.

Expect corrective feedback at work. This is information intended to improve performance, but will sometimes be incorrect or unfair. How you handle it is a measure of your ability to maintain positive and productive relationships at work. This feedback will no doubt be painful, but by holding back your emotions, discussing them with your boss and others, and then taking action, you will be on the right track to effectively handle these situations.


Leave a Reply