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We all want the superlative review, but what should you do if a monthly evaluation is below your expectations.? It can be jarring to receive negative feedback when you feel you’re doing your best. How can you make the experience constructive?

First, take a moment to acknowledge your emotions. Think about what you’re feeling, be it anxiety, sadness or anger. It is important not to let your emotions color what you read in the evaluation. By recognizing your emotions, you can more easily navigate them. Once you’ve connected with your emotions, you can decide whether or not they will be useful to you in reading your evaluation.

Once you’ve chosen to label your unproductive emotions, it’s time to breathe. We know you’re breathing anyway (at least we hope so!), but now it’s time to use that breath to create a mindful state. Use your mindful minute skills to create a sense of calm and focus.

When you’re ready, look at the evaluation again. What was your boss really trying to say? When our emotions take over, it’s easy to see any criticism as unfair or mean-spirited. Chances are, she didn’t write “I don’t like you’re face” on your evaluation (if she did, stop reading the blog and go to H.R. now). Once you’re in a mindful place, you can read the evaluation not as a criticism, but as a helpful advice.

It’s pretty likely that your boss isn’t out to get you, but wants you to develop your skills because it’s good for you and the company. When you approach the evaluation through that lens, you might be more open to the suggestions you’ll find.

Now, it’s time to really flex your SIYLI muscles. Use your self-awareness skills to evaluate the criticism. If it’s accurate, accept that feedback. Know that now that you are aware of the feedback, you can work to overcome it.

That’s good news! You now have a clear idea of what you need to improve upon. This might seem daunting, but having a clear goal (ie: stop holding dance parties in your office) will help you improve your performance. Use your motivation skills to get yourself excited to make this change. To do this, take a moment to examine what really motivates you:

Knowing you are working to your ability?

Working to get a promotion?

Helping move the company forward?

Developing your capacity to listen?

To lead with compassion?

After you get clear about what motivates you and what you want to develop, you’ll enjoy better evaluations, and your boss will enjoy your improved attitude and productivity.