Ever been upset by feedback?
I know I have. In the worst instance many years ago I sat there stunned as someone I respected ripped me to shreds. I cried all the way home and nearly changed careers, convinced I was really bad at my job. It was only the counsel of some close colleagues that helped me get things back in perspective.
The truth is that even the best, most constructive feedback can sting when you first hear it.
Here’s how to process it. Once the emotional reaction has faded, ask yourself:
- is the feedback factually correct? It’s easy to make excuses so you might need to be brutally honest with yourself on this point. If you’re not sure ask someone else whose opinion you trust. In my case, some of it was factually correct, some of it wasn’t.
- does it resonate? I’ve often found that, once things have calmed down, you do recognise yourself in at least some of the feedback. I certainly did, even though it was painful to hear from someone else.
- is it fair? this is where you can introduce the mitigation. In my case I thought there were some good and fair points made but some of it was down to a difference in approach and some of it was based on a misunderstanding by the other person. And the delivery did not have to be so brutal.
- what do you want to do about it? If you feel you should act on the feedback start by picking one aspect of it to focus on and identify one or two small changes you can start to make. A coach, mentor or trusted colleague will be able to help you with this. You might well decide to ignore the feedback and that’s your right. However, if you ignore it and get similar feedback again make sure you revisit that decision.
- when you’re ready, and it may take some time, go back to the feedback giver, discuss what you are doing as a result of their feedback and talk to them about the impact their feedback had on you. The person who gave me the feedback I thought was brutal was shocked at how it came across and how much it upset me. We had a really useful, adult to adult discussion about how I would like them to communicate with me in future.
An old boss of mine used to say feedback is a gift. It doesn’t always feel like it but I know I have made the most progress when someone has taken me to one side and kindly suggested a course correction. Having a structured way of reflecting on the feedback and processing it will definitely help.
If you would like to talk to me about issues raised in this post just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book yourself in for a free chat here.