Feedback vs Criticism

I think taking feedback and seeing it as helpful versus seeing what someone shares as criticism to your identity is a challenge for most of us.  Even if a person is being critical, it can be really helpful stuff if we will keep ourselves from allowing the information to devastate us and instead choose to learn from it.  I think hearing how other people perceive our interactions can be invaluable.  It is a dangerous thing to not let people speak into your life.  It can be hard, though, to decide who’s feedback to take.  Here are some thoughts on how to process someone’s correction, rebuke, or feedback.

  1. Do not dismiss what the person said because you are aware of his or her faults.  When someone shares something with you that is hard to hear avoid the reaction of “he or she must think that he or she is perfect.”  I am pretty sure unless that is said, that the person is not stating this.  His or her faults do not change the reality of your situation.
  2. Avoid pursuing those who are going to immediately defend you.  It becomes really easy to find those who will quickly come to your aid and tell you why the person is an idiot.  Building a coalition is not helpful. It is what we want to do, but in the process you may miss some good stuff.
  3. Be careful to not blame the environment.  You may have been tired and it could have been a tough week.  These could be real.  But it is dangerous to quickly justify behavior based on the externals.  It is possible that the details of the situation just exaggerated a normal behavior.
  4. Bite your tongue on giving the person feedback in that moment.  The person is sharing with you, do not turn around and make it about him or her.  This minimizes the situation and keeps us from really looking into the mirror.

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