Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Dwelling on Negative Feedback

DEAR HARRIETTE: I conducted a workshop for a client, and we did a survey to see how the participants felt about it. I thought it went really well, and most of the participants agreed and shared bits about their experiences in the comments. About a third of the participants didn’t like it, though. I know I shouldn’t hold on to those negative comments, but I can’t help myself. I feel like I can do better and may be able to win everybody over. I’m wondering if I should ask the administrator if I can contact the participants to ask for more feedback.

My direct supervisor told me that she thought the survey reflected well on my abilities and added that nobody gets a perfect score. Should I leave it at that? I just feel like I can probably do better if they tell me what they want. -- Survey the Participants

DEAR SURVEY THE PARTICIPANTS: Our natural inclination, as human beings, seems to be to become fixated on imperfection. I believe this is something that we should resist. You just explained that you received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the survey results of your workshop. That is excellent. Accept that. It is OK to take note of any areas where you can improve, but you should not attempt to identify participants who may be able to further clarify their thinking. Typically, surveys are anonymous, so finding out could be challenging anyway. Instead of focusing on the negative comments, accept them and work on whatever was pointed out. Build on where you are. And know that it is normal for some people to offer criticism. Take it for what it’s worth, but do not amplify it.