• Question: How do you deal with negative comments?

    Asked by saarahmalik to David, Thiloka, Shonna, Shobhana, Ryan, Ross, Rebecca, Rachel, Patrick, Nina, MattyB, Matthew, Marianne, Lorena, Kate, Kaitlin, James, Ettie, Emmanuelle, Deepak, Anabel, Ambre, Alex, AlexAgrotis, Aina on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      That’s a really interesting question, and obviously some negative comments are harder to deal with than others, depending on what they are related to. Negative comments in relation to my work and research can sometimes be useful as they can encourage reflection and critique of what we are doing and allow us to improve our research or consider new ideas. Negative comments in relation to an individual’s personality or life choices are much harder to deal with. I think it’s always important to have someone to share those comments with, be that a friend, parent, teacher, and allow you to see that they might not be true. Sometimes people say negative comments to spark a reaction, and not reacting to them negatively can be helpful.

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Great question! I first ask myself if the comment has any truth in it and if I can learn anything from the negative comment. I then use this to improve myself, if there is something I can learn from the negative comment. If I feel that the negative comment is not true and not constructive, I say to myself “I’m not going to let that in” and don’t let it get to me. When someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept it, it goes back to the person. I think it’s the same with negativity – if you chose not to accept it, it returns to the person. I did used to let negative comments get to me at times, but I have now learnt that it can waste a lot of energy to dwell on a negative comment, especially when there are a lot of positive comments around! I chose to focus on what I can change for the better in response to the comment, and improve myself when I can. Hope that helps!

    • Photo: Ettie Unwin

      Ettie Unwin answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I agree with the other two, that’s a good question. I find it really hard to accept negative comments but its important to hear other peoples thoughts so I can improve my work. I take a deep breathe and try and listen to them as emotionless as I can. If I’m having a bad day I’ll make a note of them and then tackle them when I’m feeling a bit better.

      I think its important to remember if you are giving someone else negative comments to think about how they make you feel and try and pull out some positives too!

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Calmly. In science, there are always negative comments about your work (not very often about you) so you have to learn how to deal with those and take them as constructive criticisms that will help you in the long-term.

    • Photo: Deepak Chandrasekharan

      Deepak Chandrasekharan answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Receiving feedback is important in both clinical and scientific work – sometime it’s about the work, sometimes it’s about me, personally.

      I listen to it and try and think about it objectively – were they correct? is the comment something I can learn from? will it improve me or my work? Is it something I can change? I often talk to friends and colleagues to get input on this – especially if it’s about me personally.

      Sometimes though, the comments are incorrect and then you have to learn to just ignore it and move on without letting it get you down or affect you! Friends and supportive colleagues can help with this too!

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Great question – I’m actually pretty sensitive so often take negative comments to heart (even when they’re not necessarily meant to be negative). Sometimes the hardest part is recognising if a comment is negative in the first place. Certainly a scientific career is full of criticism about your work – I have taken it, and I have dished out my fair share too when I have reviewed papers for journals – but I always try to be constructive because that’s the point. Peer review is a fundamentally important part of good science – it’s so important that we question what we are doing, and what our peers are doing, to make sure that the science is of the best quality and rigour, and is ethically sound. In the most part, the negative criticism I have received throughout my career has always made me or my work better. This can be very hard to take when you have worked so hard on something, but the key to success is really to ‘fail well’ – all successful people have experienced failure at some point, and they are usually the ones that have listened to constructive critique, taken note, and learnt from it. Occasionally people will throw negativity at you with no good reason – that is part of life; recognise this as a weakness in that person – if you refuse to accept victimhood, you won’t be a victim.
      Finally, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to ‘celebrate the wins’; in science the effort often far outweighs the results, and so when things go well, be proud of it and share that celebration with everyone who contributed to the work.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      As someone with Tourette’s, I have had to deal with negative comments from a whole host of situations. I was even told by a lot of people that I wouldn’t be able to be a scientist…. but look at me now!!

      they fall into two groups; personal and work related.

      Work related ones I deal with in two ways:

      1. I think about their comment and see if there is in fact anything I can improve on.
      2. If they are wrong, then I use this as a positive to spur me on and show them.

      Personal comments I deal with by talking about them with my close friends and often they help me to think about any truth and possible changes to make. (they also remind you that you are awesome!!) If the comments are just negative with no truth then you do have to pretty much ignore it and not dwell on them. Don’t let other peoples negativity bring you down, just remember all your positives 🙂

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      It depends from whom the comment is coming from.
      Most of the time I couldn’t care less what someone else thinks if they cant deliver their opinion in a constructive way, there’s enough negativity floating around that I don’t need any more influencing me. I’ve got plenty of good friends and colleagues around me who I respect their opinion and I know will be honest and supportive when i need it, I value their time and comments.

    • Photo: Alex Blenkinsop

      Alex Blenkinsop answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      Unfortunately, sometimes it’s all part of learning. It’s always best if someone can give you feedback in a constructive way, but even if it seems a bit harsh I try not to take it personally and try to reflect on how I can make something positive out of it to improve my work.

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      If it’s a negative comment about my work then I think about it and try and find if there’s any truth in it. This can be helpful for improving an experiment plan or a piece of written work, so not all negative comments are bad things. It’s also important who the comment comes from. Do they know more about the subject than you? Do they want you to do well and succeed? If the answer is no to either of those questions try to take their negative comment with a pinch of salt. If it’s yes then it’s good to consider what they’ve said.

      Negative comments about your personality or appearance can be much harder to take, and those are the ones that I find stick. Just remember that if someone is rude about those sorts of things it’s a much bigger reflection on them than it is on you. How unhappy must someone be to make fun of someone’s nose or hat, for example. Keep away from those types of people. 🙂

    • Photo: Rachel Hardy

      Rachel Hardy answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      If the negative comment is about my work, I always try to take it on board and use it to improve my work output. If the comment is about me personally, I find it harder to deal with and normally would talk to my friends in the lab about it

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