Elephant Conversations How To Deal with Feedback That Makes You Twinge - Elephant Conversations

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How To Deal with Feedback That Makes You Twinge

Every so often we find ourselves getting feedback from someone that leaves us feeling not-so-great. Whether it’s a co-worker or a family member, being told something we may not agree with, or be ready to hear, can cause us to have an emotional reaction.

So what if you had a way to deal with those yucky feelings when they happen?

This is actually a theme that has been coming up in my own life lately, with clients, friends, and family. We get some feedback and we’re not really sure what we want to do with it.

When this happens, we have a couple of choices for how we handle it.  

Option one is to accept the feedback and learn from it. This is always a great option and can be really helpful.

The second option is to disregard it.  We may want to do this when we think that what they said isn’t really applicable because it doesn’t speak to the truth of who we are. There’s no reason to be upset or mad about it, we just recognize that what they’ve said is probably more about them then it is about us.

The third option is when we can look at the feedback and decide that while we don’t 100% agree with what was said, but there may be a kernel or two of truth in there that is worth considering.

Check this out:

Accepting Feedback is a Choice

The beautiful thing about when others give us feedback is that we get to CHOOSE what meaning it has to us.

So often I hear people saying that someone made them feel bad, or upset them. Or maybe they didn’t like how someone else described them.

Truthfully, there are certain words and phrases that automatically have us throwing up our defenses. Things like:

“You’re a micromanager.”

“You’re controlling.”

“You’re acting like a martyr.”

I will admit I’ve been on the receiving end of all of these, and when you hear them, your initial reaction may be to immediately go on the offence. Or maybe you phone up your partner and go off about what a jerk the person who said it is.

The problem with doing either of these things is that YOU are the one who ends up suffering. You’re the one with the stomach ache, feeling angry and repeatedly running the conversation through your head.

Clearly, that needs to stop.

What you need to do is take a breath and decide whether that feedback is going in the “keep” or the “toss” pile and move on from there.

This recently happened with a friend of mine. She shared with me that someone had called her a perfectionist and she was really upset by it.  

I asked her, “is that really about them or about you?”, and after she thought about it she said she knew it was about them.

It was a great reminder to me that we have the power to choose the meaning we give other people’s feedback.

Accepting Feedback Requires an Open Mind

A couple of days ago I had another conversation with someone I’m part of a networking group with. He’s a great guy but is known for being really blunt with his words, and I have had a few times with him where he’s said something that left me with that icky feeling in my stomach.

One thing he’s started doing lately is correcting my language. I often talk about how I “need” this or that, and he’ll correct me by saying “No Diane, that’s a want, not a need.”

Now, even though he is saying NOTHING about my character when he does this, I still get that little twinge and feel like I should justify or explain myself. But instead of going that route, I stopped and really thought about what he has been saying.

He’s right. I know he is. So instead of feeling hurt or bothered, instead I’m choosing to feel appreciative that he pointed this out to me.

With this example, I understand that having your language corrected isn’t the same as being called a control freak, but it’s feedback nonetheless, and it falls into the “keep” or “toss” pile.

An important point of note with this method is that you don’t actually need to SAY you’re disregarding their feedback, as that will only invite conflict. But you can definitely think it!

At the end of the day, we learn so much from the feedback we receive. It’s how we grow and develop as people. It’s how we get better.

Knowing you have the choice to keep the good and throw out the negative gives you the freedom to truly embrace the feedback you do receive, and gives you permission to not react emotionally in the moment.

Feedback is a gift. So say thank you, take it home, and then decide what to do with it…just like you would with an ugly Christmas sweater from your Great Aunt Ida.



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