Updated: May 22, 2020
I'm quite sure you have heard feedback is a gift. I certainly agree feedback is a gift, but let's keep it real, feedback can be hard to swallow. Really hard to swallow. Really, really hard. Did I mention that feedback can be hard to swallow? 😊
Okay, enough of that, let's get down to how the "struggle is real". As a child I took feedback really personally. I believe I took it personally because of HOW it was given. It felt, many times, more insulting than anything else. I literally left the conversations sometimes feeling utterly stupid.😞 It's amazing how the environment in which you grow up can shape the way you interact with others for years, and years of your life. Maybe even the rest of your life. That was the case for me. I literally dreaded performance reviews at work. I felt if disappointed anyone I would he a failure, or worse yet, stupid. I don't like to fail, and I definitely don't like rejection.
Over the last decade or so I've been reshaping my mind around feedback. As a manager I have to give feedback. Based on past experiences I'm very thoughtful, and deliberate on how I provide it, and I have an open mind on how to receive it. However, I also realize I need to be able to accept it without taking it personal. Over the years I have been forthright with my manager that feedback is something I have struggled with. I have no problem being honest about that. I ask them to give me 24-48 hours to digest the feedback that is constructive (accepting the glowing comments about is easy of course 😊). I need that time to digest it to work through the different emotions, and analysis, it takes me to understand the feedback, accept it, and determine how to apply it to make me better. I position my mind in the world of positive intent and would truly hope that anyone providing the feedback has my best interest at heart.
What I find interesting is although feedback is a challenge for me, I decided to be a speaker. An area where receiving feedback is inevitable. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone, right? You see, when you speak at conferences, or events, the organizers definitely feedback on the speakers. As they should. However, this was really hard for me when I started out, and in some cases disappointing. It was hard because I don't like disappointing anyone, or as I said, failing. I also want to bring content that people can relate to every single time I speak. I want to make sure that everyone leaves the room with at least 1 thing they can immediately use when they go back to their respective jobs, or lives. I pour everything I've got in to creating the presentations. It takes hours, upon hours, of preparation and work. It also takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of observation to understand the energy in the room. It takes a lot of concentration to not only present, but to determine if you need to change up the approach on the fly to reach your audience. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and bring forth your best, knowing there will probably be someone out there you may not reach for whatever reason. I am not saying all of this to put a pitch in for speaking, I'm sharing this to show the gravity of the passion I have to better myself, even if that means getting out of my comfort zone. The reason I choose to speak is to overcome my fears of failure, rejection, obtaining feedback. In addition, I chose speaking to share my knowledge with others, as I have a passion to inspire, motivate and encourage others. , I have found that getting out of my comfort zone and doing this work has helped me on my journey to accepting feedback. During this process of the last decade here is what I uncovered:
Get out of your comfort zone to get to that next level - I had to put myself out there to receive feedback in order to get better at accepting this gift. Some times it stung, but the sting makes you better.
Understand the difference between feedback and an opinion - people will always have an opinion, but what you really want is constructive feedback. An opinion is defined as: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge tidbits of information that can make you better. Feedback is defined as: information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement. When receiving feedback asks for facts and how this information can help you improve. If you don't get this at a minimum what is the point? A mentor of mine told me a few years ago that when I get survey results to do the following: (a) read all of the feedback (b) remove the lowest scores and highest scores (c) Focus on those scores in the middle. I have found this to be very helpful as the middle is the place where I find the most meat. This helps to give perspective.
Know you will not be 100% all the time - sometimes you just have an off day. Though my goal is to be 100% on all the time that is not realistic. There are sometimes you just don't behave the way you desire. When this situation happens determine what was occurring in your life that threw you off your game. Try not to beat yourself up over it because NO ONE is perfect. Once you determine what that "thing" is, then determine how in the future you can acknowledge you are off, and determine what you can do to get into your zone.
Set Expectations Upfront - as I said earlier, I have a conversation with all of my managers upfront on how I wish to receive feedback, and the process I go through. I also have the same conversation with the team members I manage. I do this because I want to ensure everyone has an understanding on how I accept and digest feedback. I want to be thoughtful to others on how when I give feedback as well. At the end of the day, the feedback should be very honest, but yet very thoughtful and deliberate in delivery.
Don't over analyze - and for all you do, DO NOT over analyze the feedback. Don't get so caught up in it that you are obsessed with it. Take it for what it is. Capture what you can out of it and keep it moving. You will never please everyone so don' try to. Be who you are, and the best version of you every day. The best version may not be 100% every day either so keep that in mind.
Receiving feedback has been such a journey for me. I still struggle sometimes with it, and I have no problem admitting that. However, I am getting better at it every day. Go forth and conquer and don't let people's opinion of you stop you from being the best version of you. Most importantly, don't stop yourself by being the best version of you by being your own worse critic to where it's crippling.
Until next time, signing off!
The BA Martial Artist 🥋
P.S. Leave me a comment and let me know how you handle feedback.