By Bryan Kramer | Commentary, Featured

How to Embrace Feedback

You can’t control the things that happen to you. A whole myriad of weird and wonderful stuff is occurring all of the time and you can easily get mixed up in it.

Shying away from feedback and creating a negative thought pattern around it can disorientate you in the long-term. It’s a skill and probably one of the hardest to learn.

Take for example a project that feels like you have been working on for decades. You’re pretty sure you’ve aged at least 80 years during the process anyway. Late nights, copious cups of coffee and mounting stress levels – you’ve busted a gut on this one.

So, knowing how hard you’ve worked and how much you’ve worried over a project can make it really tough if you receive any feedback that isn’t all sunshine, rainbows n smiles.

In your head, you know nothing is perfect, but it still feels like a massive kick in the teeth to get ‘constructive criticism’ or feedback of any kind. Your boss or client could say, ‘hey, I really liked this BUT here are a few changes…’.

Which part are you gonna remember and obsess over in the dead of night? Perhaps the fact that they liked most of your work – OR the ‘changes’. Oh, gee thanks, looks like all of the positives are going to be thrown into the ether and we’re getting all aboard the negativity train, first stop ‘your brain’.

Let’s look at how you can actually live for feedback and not turn it into a scary, bad thing, but critical to your success.

Stick Around

Get yourself used to receiving and accepting feedback. Seeking it out can be a good way of doing this and seem sort of crazy, but will help in the long-term.

Even if you’ve had something signed off or accepted without any ‘criticism’, practice reaching out and asking if there’s anything you can improve on.

This can feel more comfortable, because you already know that your colleague or client was overall, pleased with the work, but it still feels weird to say ‘tell me some stuff that isn’t great’.

Asking for feedback will show that you’re keen to develop your skills though and it’ll also make you feel more adept at navigating constructive feedback.

Welcome feedback and make it a consistent and common part of your working pattern, instead of something you shy away from and dread. Thicker skin will come from more experience.

Warts and All

Are you accepting yourself and who you are if you avoid feedback and get disproportionately upset by it? Living authentically is about accepting your flaws and acknowledging them. If feedback is triggering a really negative response then you must dig deeper and try to find out why. Is it based on feelings of inadequacy or fear?

Thinking a client isn’t happy with your work can make you tumble into a cycle of self-doubt where you feel like a fraud.

It’s easier said than done to start living your life in a more human, authentic and honest way, warts n all, but doing so and acknowledging your limitations and flaws means that feedback won’t be as much of a surprising and disarming concept.

Build yourself up.

Shiny Pennies

Allowing yourself to embrace feedback and constructive criticism is part of being more considerate towards others. On a basic level, feedback is an exercise in listening after all, right?

You’re listening to the thoughts and concerns of someone else, acknowledging them and offering something back i.e changes or improvements moving forward.

Thinking of feedback as a listening task and a lesson in compromise and problem-solving can help you to remove the personal aspect that sometimes hurts.

Strip it back and see feedback for the professional task that it is. This will help you to present yourself as an employee that’s open to collaboration and good at it too.

Trust the Process

Negative feedback can feel a lot worse if your relationships at work or with clients don’t feel strong. It means that it’s more difficult for you to understand where feedback is coming from when you’re more uncertain about a person, their motivations and your connection are blurry.

Sometimes reading a cold, clinical email with feedback can feel harsh – things don’t always translate well in text form.

Why not ask a client or colleague with feedback to go through it with you in person? It can help to build a more personal connection with the person delivering it, you can understand where they’re coming from, things don’t sound as blunt and it’ll build a bit more trust in the process.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Personal

This has to be one of the biggest tips for navigating the whole feedback process. Unless the feedback you’re being given is ‘YOU’RE A BAD PERSON’, the large majority of it is being delivered solely from a professional place, with professional advice…so, accept it in a professional way.

And this means not automatically thinking someone hates you, doesn’t think your work is good and wonders why you have your job. These are all assumptions your brain can jump to that probably aren’t true, like 99% sure.

Try to practice accepting the advice you’d give someone else. You can be more rational and objective when you look at someone else’s situation.

Think about the advice you’d give a friend who received your feedback…you’d probably tell them to focus on the positive, be open to improvement and ask for clarification if they’re unsure about anything. You wouldn’t say half the cr*p to a friend that you would yourself, so give yourself a break!

The One Takeaway

Good constructive feedback is full of golden nuggets of information for you to take forward but look for that one that will make the difference. There is always a lesson to be learned.

So work on ways to protect your confidence, be an active listener and stop giving yourself such a hard time for not being perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist, and the sooner we all accept it, the better.

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