Psychologist Gemma Leigh Roberts explains how your ego can protect or derail you when giving and receiving feedback. Learn how to change your perspective to create an objective and realistic approach when providing others with feedback.
- Have you ever been in a situation where you've received negative feedback and your immediate reaction is to think, that feedback can't possibly be correct? The other person must have it all wrong, or they don't really understand the situation. Maybe once the defensiveness or embarrassment phase and you later reflect on the situation, you realize that actually, there may have been an element of truth in what the other person was saying.
This can happen at work and it can happen in our personal lives. We may clash with our colleagues, our family, or our partner. When the dust settles, sometimes we see that there was some accuracy in what the other person was saying. So, if we can see if it afterwards, why can't we see it at the time? This may be due to being in a heated situation, where tensions and emotions are high, but often, it's to do with our ego getting in the way.
Our ego is built to protect us, to keep us from harm, and minimize psychological discomfort. When we hear something we don't like, or something that clashes with our view of ourselves, our ego can step in, distort the situation, and assume the information must be wrong. This protects us from the pain or discomfort of feeling guilty, ashamed, or anxious. On the flip side, sometimes, if we've been in a negative thought rut lately, our ego can get a bit lazy and assume because everything else is so terrible, what the other person is saying must also be awful.
Confirming what we believe to be true about ourselves. The truth is, the other person may actually be providing some considerate, thoughtful, and useful feedback, but our ego has distorted the reality of the situation again. The key here is to understand our perspective isn't a fact, it's an opinion, just one way of seeing the situation. And feedback, also isn't necessarily 100% accurate.
It's just someone else's opinion. Learning how to manage your ego in the feedback process, will help you to be more objective. An easy way to do this, is to behave like an objective reporter. You may want to use the reporter perspective exercise file to help with this. Think about a recent situation that was a challenge for you, where things didn't go to plan, and describe that situation from your point of view.
What happened? Who was involved? What were you thinking? How did you react? And, what were the outcomes? Now, do exactly the same, but pretend you're an objective reporter. You know nothing about the background to the situation, or how people are thinking. How would you describe the situation now? What's happened? Who was involved? How do people react? And, you're looking at all people involved here, not just you.
What were the outcomes for everyone? Now, look at the differences in perspective. Where are the clear differences between how you thought about the situation, and how an objective bystander would view the situation? Maybe you thought you were coming across as being indecisive by asking for many opinions before making a decision, but you actually came across as collaborative. What does this tell you about how you viewed the situation? Was your perspective 100% accurate? Most importantly, did your ego get in the way and distort the picture so you saw the situation in a way that wasn't exactly true from the perspective of everyone involved? Not just you.
Your indecisive maybe someone else's collaborative. The key when giving and receiving feedback is to remember, we all see things differently. Perspective is an opinion and gathering different perspectives will give you a clearer picture of what's actually going on. We can't always rely on our own point of view only, as sometimes our ego can get in the way, and distort the picture. We need feedback from others to help develop and improve.
What actions can you take to enhance your awareness of when your ego is taking over and distorting the picture to protect you?
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