Understand how your thoughts and feelings create the story you tell yourself about the situation you find yourself in. Learn how you can take control of how you react and respond to feedback—influencing the story you tell yourself and others.
- Picture this scene. You've been sitting in a traffic jam. As you pick up speed, you're driving a bit cautiously in case the traffic suddenly stops. You leave a large space between you and the car in front and someone pulls up beside you and nips into the space in front, an action that you consider to be a dangerous move. You're irritated. You're late for an appointment and you're tired. By now you're fuming with anger and you've been honking the horn at the person in front.
Now rewind. Imagine the exact same scene, but the difference is you've just been given a wonderful piece of news. You're in a good mood, and one irritating driver isn't going to change that. When the person pulls in front of you, you think it's a dangerous move, but you decide to let it go and focus on your positive news. Your thoughts and feelings create the story you tell yourself. The same applies when you're receiving feedback.
If you're feeling angry, tired, emotional, overwhelmed, and someone offers you what they think is a constructive piece of advice, it may be enough to push you over the edge and feel like a failure. You may get into a pattern of thinking you can never do anything right. You'll never improve and the situation in out of your control. Now on the flip side, if you're feeling happy, excited, hopeful, able to deal with challenges, you may be more likely to listen to the advice but not get too hung up on it.
You may feel that everyone has development areas and you can use that information to improve the way you go about a particular task. The trick is to appreciate feedback and use that feedback constructively without fixating on it, and that applies whatever mood you're in. And it's more challenging if you're in a negative mood. Feedback is important for us to develop, but remember, it's one person's opinion.
And even if a few people are saying the same thing and it's less than favorable, that's okay. Everyone has development areas. Everyone makes mistakes, and we can all improve at something. It's what you do with that feedback that's important. You can learn to take control of how you respond and react to feedback. Firstly, take a step back. Don't be rash in how you react and take your time to process the information.
If you're feeling a bit low, try not to think about the feedback right away if that's an option. Instead, make sure the other person knows you will take the feedback onboard, but you'll need some time to process it. Second, don't fixate on negative feedback, or positive for that matter. An overly positive view of yourself isn't realistic and may cause a blind spot. Take a balanced view, looking at the feedback from all angles to gain a rounded perspective.
Thirdly, separate opinion and fact. Opinions can of course be useful, but this is one person's point of view. Someone else may think completely differently. Focus on the facts and train yourself to consider different opinions. Fourth, create a forward focus. It's useful to know how you can improve on past performance or behavior, but don't dwell on that.
Use that information to change how you react, behave, and think in the future, creating an opportunity to deal with situations better, improve performance, and build stronger relationships. Over the next few days, commit to writing your story. You can use the write your story exercise file to help with this. Think about a time recently where you've received feedback. First, write out the story of the event with a negative view.
Next, do the same but with an entirely positive view. How do these stories match up? Finally, choose your story, considering all points of view and using that information to grow and develop. The next time you receive developmental feedback, it's your opportunity to write your story. How can you get better at taking onboard developmental advice without fixating on it? How can you make sure you're looking at different perspectives and using both the positive and negative views of the situation to create a realistic outlook?
Watch this course to learn how to give and receive high-quality feedback. Whether it's with peers, managers, colleagues, team members, friends, or family, the same principles apply across the board. Author Gemma Leigh Roberts shows how to give effective feedback, ask for feedback, and use the responses you receive as a tool to improve personal performance. These tips will help lead you into a cycle of continuous development, and a growth mindset that can help propel your career and your relationships forward.
- Getting comfortable asking for feedback
- Overcoming blind spots
- Creating a growth mindset
- Giving effective and unbiased feedback