Why is feedback so easy to give but so hard to receive? In my experience most of us have negative emotions associated with feedback. Receiving feedback, even from people we trust and with whom we have good relationships, can cause us to have a defensive, emotional response. Sometimes that response is voiced and sometimes we internalize it. Either way, we generally don’t like it and don’t take it well.
We tend to avoid feedback because we dislike feeling criticized. We often attach feedback to critical comments we’ve received in the past from others, and this can have a cumulative effect of discomfort and defensiveness.
However, there is a big upside to feedback. All progress and positive change starts when we learn and accept the truth. When we accept the truth, we become powerful beings. It all comes down to training ourselves to see feedback as a positive nudge to become a better version of ourselves. It helps us to see how we are actually perceived versus how we had wished to be perceived or how we think we are perceived.
Think back to the last few times someone gave you feedback whether it was your significant other, a friend, an employee or teammate, or a boss. Think back about your initial reaction. If you discover that you do, in fact, resist feedback and that you want to re-evaluate your reaction to leverage the gifts embedded in that feedback, then consider these ideas:
- Acknowledge your feelings. The first step to overcoming or changing a reaction is to acknowledge it. Once your brain identifies a problem, it immediately starts working to solve it. So, if this is something you are struggling with, we challenge you to become more self-aware this week and to let your brain get to work on the challenge.
- Ask questions about the feedback, if you can. Deepen your understanding of it, and ask for suggestions about how you could gain a better result.
- Detach the feedback and the behavior it describes or evaluates from you as a person. In other words, most of us never set out to get a negative result, hurt someone’s feelings, or make mistakes. Give yourself some credit and some grace and try to be as objective and curious as you can about the things you could change to get a better result.
- Practice gratitude for the potential and likely embedded gifts hidden within the feedback.
Try it out and see what your brain can solve. See how useful feedback can be when you remain open, neutral, and grateful. The power from all the feedback you have been afraid to hear is waiting for you to catch up with the best version of you.
“Taking constructive criticism from others is required to get to the next level.”
~ Wendy Starland