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Feedback & The Negativity Bias
In-App Gems
- mins read

Feedback & The Negativity Bias

Anne-Marie Lowry
Anne-Marie Lowry
Head of Program
Anne-Marie Lowry
August 8, 2022

Feedback is a gift, right?

But what happens when it’s a gift you didn’t really want but had to smile through your gritted teeth and pretend to like? (Cue uneasy memories of opening gifts you didn’t necessarily like… no? just me then?!) 

While receiving positive feedback can be like being showered in gifts (that you actually do want!), from time to time the ‘negative’ or constructive feedback can sting.

The constructive feedback can be great to improve and develop but it can be perceived as ‘negative’. And just like a couple of dominos, the knock on effect of the negative/constructive piece becomes the biggest thing and the only thing you focus on.This my friend, is a thing called the negativity bias.

We as beautiful little humans give more psychological weight to bad experiences than good ones - to the point that some researchers believe that negative emotions have an impact close to three times stronger than positive emotions! I was today years old when I learned that in order for positive feedback to land, the ratio needs to be 5:1. That’s five times the amount of positive feedback in comparison to receiving one piece of negative feedback.

We all have choices in how we receive feedback, both positive and negative. However, the role of yourself with yourself plays a huge part in your own negativity bias.

Below are some self-coaching tips and questions to ask yourself when managing your own negativity bias.

  • List the feedback you received in its entirety - and yes, that means the positive too! 
  • What’s fact and what’s fiction? 
  • *Hint - has any little internal fictional story trickled in around the ‘negative’ feedback? It might be the Negativity Bias at play!)
  • The ‘negative’ feedback you received - what can you do with it? 
  • What’s the learning here? 
  • Can you use it as a piece of data to help you develop? 
  • The ‘positive’ feedback that was shared with you - what can you do with it? 
  • (And before you catch yourself saying ‘nothing’, what about giving yourself some kudos?!)

So whether you see feedback as a true ‘gift’ or not, there are ways and means for us all to learn and grow through feedback and ultimately to see feedback as data to work with into the future. 

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