Feedback is something you hear or receive daily and you might not even recognize it when it’s happening.
Let’s just say you’re chatting with your friends or family, and you start talking about something you like or don’t like; you might begin to point out your reasons why, or what could be done better, or where there are areas of opportunity that are specific to a set subject, item, or event.
Now, let's turn this around and direct these critiques toward ourselves. Not super fun, right?. But we still end up doing it, and it may not come as a huge surprise to find out that being our own critic isn’t as efficient as we might think. This is especially true when it comes to being our own critic in the workplace, so it’s safe to say this may not be the path we want to take regarding feedback.
First, let’s talk about how we receive feedback. If it’s good feedback, we may feel prideful or happy hearing it.We may even think to ourselves “With this, I can take it to the next level!”. That’s because good feedback often results in having a good attitude, which is something to be encouraged. However, when receiving feedback that is not good, it can be a “hard pill to swallow” and if we don’t receive it well, our reactions may be rash and can get us in trouble.
Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, the founders of Triad Consulting Group and a Lecture on Law at Harvard, wrote a book called “Thanks for the Feedback”. In it, they showcase that when people are given feedback, they manifest three types of triggers; Truth Triggers, Relationship Triggers, and Identity Triggers. They also define the people who are giving feedback as “Givers”, so let’s just keep referring to them as such moving forward.Personally, I’ve manifested all three of these triggers almost every time I’ve been given feedback, but it was only recently that learned these triggers even existed and that they are quite normal.
So, let's talk triggers…
There may be a time where we’re receiving feedback and our guts tell us that it’s not going to go well, and that’s okay. We have every right to feel the way we feel and we should never dishonor our feelings, because, frankly, it won’t solve anything or make the feedback go away. So really, we should embrace our feelings, even if they may not feel good in the moment. Learning to process our feelings could inevitably help to lift the weight of not knowing how we are doing or help us open up to receiving feedback better in the future.
If receiving feedback is hard for you, I’d recommend the following:
One of the most important elements of receiving feedback is understanding. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not always the case. Sometimes “understanding” isn’t our immediate response to feedback, because we’re too busy being blinded by the “wrong things” we had pointed out to us during it. That’s okay though. You may need some alone time to process everything, and you should take that time. Whatever method you choose to use when processing feedback, just make sure it feels natural, comfortable, and healthy.
If all else fails, just remember: listen, breathe and process.