The Other “First Impression”

Image Credit: Ben Rosett

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

We hear a lot about how first impressions are one of the most important moments in any relationship. When we think of first impressions we primarily think of the first meeting, the first proposal to a new client or the first project after you join a new team. Instinctively, we understand that in that moment how we present ourselves can make or break a relationship.

How you respond to negative feedback creates a supercharged “first impression.”

Negative feedback is inevitable and how you respond can be a turning point in a relationship whether the feedback comes from a client, coworker or friend.

While we put a lot of time and effort into first impressions, we often overlook this important moment of receiving criticism. Here are a few reasons why your response to negative feedback is a critical “first impression.”

How you respond to feedback shows your character.

If you reject feedback by saying you are so successful that you don’t need feedback (as someone said to me recently) you will say a lot about yourself – and it may not be the story you want to tell. Think about how you want others to see you: Do you want to be known as someone who is willing to learn, who is able to change and who listens carefully? Or do you want to be seen as someone who always needs to be right? Be prepared so that you will always show the best version of yourself.

You can build bridges or you can burn them.

When you respond well to feedback you build bridges of communication. You teach your client, coworker, boss or friend that they can come to you with issues and you will make it right without a hassle. You show that it doesn’t take a sledgehammer to get through to you – and that’s a good thing. Also, when others see that you are easy to work with they are more likely to stay in connection with you – whether that means renewing contracts, selecting you for other projects, or otherwise maintaining the relationship.

You can turn the tide.

A frustrated caller once launched into our conversation by expressing that he was very angry. Despite his obvious frustration, I kept things casual and asked for more information “so we can make this right.” I’ll never forget how his voice and behavior immediately changed – he was pleasantly surprised! He expected defensiveness and an argument, but I let him know right away that we’d help. In the end, we had a great conversation, were able to resolve his issue and he learned firsthand how we respond to conflict.

Feedback is a gift.

We’ve talked before about how feedback is a gift. Just like receiving physical presents, how you receive their feedback is important. Remember, there is always a piece of the giver in the gift. If you reject the gift harshly you may create a breach in the relationship. Always be prepared to accept the gift with grace.

Stay tuned! Soon we’ll share some strategies on how to respond to criticism and come out better on the other side.

Related posts:

The Gift You’re Probably Rejecting

5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

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