Day Four - Can you deal with feedback?
One thing everyone must face at some time is dealing with feedback. Feedback can be both positive and negative. Some people are bad at giving feedback and some people are talented at doing it. But, even if someone who is bad at it gives you feedback about something, you can learn to deal with both positive and negative feedback appropriately.
For some people who suffer from self-doubt, it’s easier to hear negative feedback as it feeds into what they already believe about themselves. When they hear positive feedback, they cannot take it because they just don’t believe it and think the person is lying or worse, being condescending.
Let’s go over some tips for dealing with both positive and negative feedback that can be useful for you depending on where you are.
Let’s start with negative feedback.
Avoid Acting Defensive
One thing that sometimes happens even if we believe it, is that we become defensive when we hear something negative and immediately want to defend ourselves. We even turn off our ability to listen when we hear it, which is not a good way to react. If you get like this, take a step back and watch yourself getting the feedback from afar in your mind. Focus only on what they’re saying, and don’t put your own feelings into it at all. You can ask questions about how they think you can improve, but don’t argue with them about it.
Only Apologize If Needed
Sometimes negative feedback is only feedback based on the other person’s opinion and isn’t something you need to say you’re sorry for. If you’re not sure, instead of reacting right away, inform the person that you appreciate what they’re saying but you need some time to think about it and consider it. That way, you don’t say you’re sorry for something you have nothing to be sorry about. If you do determine you need to say you’re sorry, you only need to do it once (sincerely) for it to count.
Ask for Clarification
When someone is giving you negative feedback, take the time to hear what they’re saying, then repeat back to them what you thought they said to ensure that you really understood. Sometimes (especially if we have low self-esteem) we can over-interpret something as negative when it’s not. Ask for understanding and take the time to let it sink in so that you’re sure you really do get it.
Remember that perfection does not exist. Everyone makes mistakes; that's normal. You can say you’re sorry if it’s required, and then you can move on without letting the experience cause more problems or fear down the line. When you know that it’s human nature to screw up, and you’re not exceptional in that way, you can let go of the pressure to be perfect even when getting negative feedback.
Now let’s talk a bit about dealing with positive feedback. As much as dealing with negative feedback makes people squirm, so does positive, and sometimes we react incorrectly to it. There really is only one right way to deal with positive feedback which is why it’s last here. Say thank you very much.
If someone else is also responsible, do mention them but don’t feel as if you need to say it’s all someone else over you unless there is a real mistake. Saying thank you is an important way to deal with positive feedback and will make the other person feel satisfied that you heard them. If you react negatively to positive feedback, you could set yourself up to never receiving it even when you deserve it. Don’t do that. Say thank you. Mean it. Move on.
The truth is, both negative and positive feedback will happen over your lifetime. It’s important to put them into perspective and not dwell on them in a negative way. Both types of feedback can be learned from and make your life better if you accept it.
Think of a time when you received some negative feedback. Think about what you could have done differently in light of the information you have just learned. Write down all the things you would do differently next time a similar situation arises.
Are you a worrier? Next time, we'll talk about how to deal with worries without getting seriously stressed about them.