How to Recover from Negative Feedback

Negative feedback… there I said it. It’s the two words most business people fear more than anything else. Because the last thing any of us want is a client telling us, “Your work is no good!”
I mean, “Really? Did you mean that or did you just have a rotten day and feel like taking your bad mood out on someone like me?”

Negative feedback sucks! It…

  • Angers you.
  • Confuses you.
  • Challenges you.
  • Gives you sleepless nights.
  • Makes you question your abilities and skills.

And it makes you question why you bother to work with people who don’t seem to respect your craft.

Want to know the bad news?

Negative feedback can be tough. It can throw you off balance without warning, and make you question everything you do.

Thoughts like these creep into your head:


  • “I always knew that I’m not good enough, maybe I should get a job, less hassles for sure.
  • Why do I even bother? Clearly I’m not capable to serve my clients well.
  • Maybe I do suck. What if I do?
  • I feel like crap. This comment really hit me in the gut. I just want to go to sleep and forget all about it.”


The good news?

Most people struggle to communicate objectively. When emotions are involved, people say the weirdest things – in person and in written form. I know I have done this (more often than I care to admit).
But I’m learning… to keep my tongue in check and to be considerate of the other person’s feelings.
Your client may not be able to objectively provide you with feedback just yet. And so, it is up to you to educate them on how to do that. How? You lead by (GOOD) example.

Here’s a little script to help you do that.

Hi <Client’s Name>,
I appreciate your email / comment in reply to my latest draft / creation / work of art / project submission. To be honest, I’m shocked!
Never in a million years did I think I’d receive such a response, from you.
I’m sorry to hear that.
It appears that I disappointed you / bullsed up / didn’t deliver as expected / made some unexpected mistakes / oversaw something important.
So please do forgive me for making you upset / angry/ disappointed.
I’m happy to clear this issue up over the phone / Skype, without delay, so that we can move forward together.
I’m free on <date + timezone> for a 15 / 20 / 30-minute chat. Will that work for you?
I look forward to hear from you.
<Your Name>

One more thing: your client could actually be right!

So if she is, dust off the crappy mood and remember to rekindle the SPARK that makes you stand out. Don’t waste time and energy on negative criticism. It happens to the best of us. Learn and move on.
And really, a few chips on your shoulder won’t kill you. Take them on-board, learn from them, and they will make you even better than you already are.
What are the worst client experiences you’ve had in the past? In hindsight, would you have reacted differently? Tell me, in the comments below.