How To Deal With Negative Reviews At Work

We're not exactly programmed to welcome negativity — especially when it pertains to us. Negativity is something we tend to ward off, shoo away, and ignore. So what do you do when you're dished a negative review at your place of work by your employer? Do you shrug it off? Do you defend yourself? Do you place blame elsewhere? Do you take a silent beating? Do you challenge your boss? Do you quit? Do you show your emotions?

Some of us are more used to handling critiques than others. Depending on what line of work you're in, you might deal with it on a day-to-day basis and be generally unfazed by it. But in other types of jobs, performance reviews are not frequent or common. It's incredibly nerve-wracking to know that a person in a position of power, over not only your job your financial stability, is about to serve you a sentencing. Whether you believe you deserve praise for your work or know you could be working harder, it's never pleasant to have these types of conversations, especially when you know your job is on the line. Here are 11 ways to deal with negative reviews at work, the mature way:


Even if you have to literally bite your tongue, be quiet. Let your boss say everything she needs to say before you open your mouth. And don't just wait until she's done talking, really listen to what she's saying. Make sure you're hearing her completely, even if you don't like what she's saying.

Remain Calm

While your anxiety might pique when you start to hear negative words, do your best to take deep breaths and keep it cool. If you give into your anxiety, you'll start using your defense mechanisms, but they're not warranted here.

Watch Your Body Language

Though you might be tempted to cross your arms and slouch the second that negativity hits you in the face, refrain from it. Keep your shoulders back, your arms uncrossed and your expression serious. The more your boss believes you to be a mature and open employee, the more your boss will have hope that you can turn your criticism around and improve with the company.

Ask Questions

If there's something you don't understand, ask questions. Make sure your tone is pleasant and open, not confrontational. Make sure it's clear you're asking questions because you respect their opinion and want to better understand it.


The whole point of this interaction is not to make you feel bad about yourself, but to make you aware of the ways you're not positively serving the company. If you want to continue working for the company, this can be seen as a wonderful learning opportunity to best understand how you can be an asset.

Be Appreciative For The Feedback

Try not to look like you were just hit by a train. Do your best to thank the person performing the review for the helpful feedback. If you get yourself in the right mindset, it is actually just that — helpful.

Ask For Clarifications

You need to leave this meeting with a better understanding of what you need to do to improve. Ask yourself if you know the answer before you leave, if you don't get the clarity you need. Otherwise, what's the point?

Stay Classy

Remember this is a professional environment and how you present yourself when you're receiving criticism is a profound test of grace and class. Anything you say or do in a state of anger or embarrassment will probably be held against you in some way.

Offer Explanations, Not Excuses

Making excuses for yourself is never encouraged, especially if you're not asked to. That said, if you can offer your employer a valid reason for why you were not performing to their standards, it can help to mention it — but only if you're using it to show how you've identified what's in your way and are sure you know how to remove it.

Make A Plan

Before you go, ask yourself if you know what to do next. If the answer is unclear, restate what you've been told and add on any helpful insights so that your employer knows you're serious about making improvements.

Schedule A Follow-Up

If you're really serious about the job, request a follow-up in the near future so that you can chat with your employer and make sure you're on a better path before the next big review. Your dedication to improvement will surely impress them.

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