The last time you received feedback, what did it feel like?
No, not what feedback did you get. What feelings actually came up for you?
Many of us have the knee-jerk reaction to get defensive when we receive feedback.
But why is this?
There's lots of dimensions to this question, but here's two ideas: 1.) People aren't good at giving feedback. 2.) People aren't good at receiving feedback.
We all know about 1, but rather than point fingers at someone else, stick with me for a minute while we look inward at why we aren't good at receiving feedback.
There's one big reason we aren't good at receiving feedback and that is: we have a story that goes along with the feedback we received. In most cases, the feedback isn't what causes us to get defensive, what causes us to get defensive is the story we tell ourselves about who we are in relation to the feedback.
For example, I got some feedback from a peer that I should change the wording of a sentence in my eLearning. My peer had the best intentions. In his eyes, by suggesting the change the wording, what I was trying to say would become clearer for my learners and create a better experience for them - my end goal. But what I heard when my peer told me about my sentence was that he thinks I am a terrible writer which quickly leads me to think that everyone thinks that I'm a terrible writer, which quickly leads me down the path of "why am I even writing?! This whole blog is a failure! I'm a terrible person!" And with that mindset, it's no doubt that I rolled my eyes at my peer and said sarcastically, "thanks for the feedback."
But what if I considered the feedback at face value? If I looked to the feedback as an opportunity to change one little thing that could make a big impact, rather than a list of items I need to improve on?
First of all, that seems less exhausting! Secondly, I am more likely to make a small change that can have a big impact!
This way of thinking isn't easy. I'm on a mission to change the way I think when I receive feedback and - I have to say - it's not easy, but it's totally worth it.
Today, try to take one piece of feedback you receive at face value; don't read into it. Instead, notice how it feels and see what happens.