Self Check-in: How do YOU deal with feedback?

Hi beauties, Before, I get started on what I have to say today, ask yourself these questions.

How do you respond, when:

• your boss asks you to do something differently?

• your manager suggests a different viewpoint?

• Your co-worker disagrees with you?

• your friend offers feedback?

• your sibling does something different from how you told them to do it (and it works too)?

• your partner tells you his/her thoughts that are not in perfect alignment with yours?

Basically, the question is this: When you receive feedback, how do you incorporate it into your world? Does it register as potentially helpful advice, clues for how to do something better/easier/quicker, constructive support, OR does it register as criticism, as harsh external judgment about your innate abilities, as exposing your imperfection?

People respond to feedback in a vast number of ways. The spectrum is wide and having clarity for how you respond is the very first step in showing up in your life equipped with yourself as your primary advocate (because let’s be honest, who else would it be if not you yourself?).

The reason I started thinking about this is because of a conversation I had with a friend the other night. He is able to take most feedback at its face value. (I say ‘most,’ because he, too, is human –SURPRISE!– and therefore his responses are varied and not always linear.) Generally, when someone comments on a specific aspect of his work, he is able to take this comment and check in with himself if he agrees or does not agree. The feedback and his subsequent internal debate revolve around the specific point that was mentioned by the feedback giver. The feedback “only” affects how he views his work AND there is room for his personal inquiry regarding the worth of the feedback he got. (Note to self: not all feedback is good feedback!) Impressive, I know!

For me, on the other hand, it takes conscious effort to keep feedback isolated and focused on what the feedback giver actually said. The difference in our response mechanisms is that I have a tendency to take feedback about something I have done and allow it to bleed into the way I feel about myself AS A WHOLE PERSON.

Here is an example that I remember most potently from when I was working on my M.A. thesis a while back. People’s feedback seemingly came from everywhere and lots of it was extremely valuable and I am eternally grateful for it. However, some it was flat out BS. Regardless of whether feedback was good or bad, this period was extremely challenging for me because my internal sense of self-worth fluctuated so much depending on this feedback. It didn’t matter if feedback came in the direct form of a statement like “This does not make sense because….” or the passive form of a question such as “Are you also going to include …”. I continually found myself somehow ashamed for not having caught these points on my own. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I repeatedly pictured myself through the eyes of my feedback giver and heard them saying things like “This whole thesis sucks” or “I cannot believe she didn’t include this. It’s so obvious.” This was where my thoughts –guided by my fears– went first; and it made me feel pretty neglected inside.

So, what was the real issue here?

The real issue was that upon receiving feedback of either kind, the first and only thing I heard was that I did a bad/ incomplete/unsatisfactory job…. Because (wait for it) I didn’t do it perfectly in everyone’s eyes! Let me repeat, I didn’t do it P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y in E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E’-S eyes!

I expected perfection from myself and therefore, I was either 100% correct or 100% incorrect! This kind of black-and-white thinking made it impossible for me to receive feedback healthfully or constructively. I was unable to actually grow as a person. It was really hard for me to get to the point where I was able to internally debate the actual worth of a specific feedback for myself.

Retrospectively, I recognize that this cycle was so strong and precarious because perfection –particularly in everyone’s eyes- is impossible to begin with. When you don’t realize that you are chasing the impossible, you are always running. It’s like you are tied to a treadmill with an everlasting energy source (Can you imagine anything more terrifying? I cannot.)

--------------> How can you jump off that treadmill?

The challenge for those of you who share this auto-response cycle when it comes to receiving feedback is this: Spell out the feedback you received word by word in your head and narrow it down to the specific point of what was said. Be very clear with yourself that everything else is simply mental clutter that does not serve your output in any capacity. Instead of allowing your mind to be clouded by thoughts that are en route to attack your self-esteem, focus inward and ask yourself these two questions:

Question 1: What was the specific suggestion behind this feedback?

Question 2: Do I agree with it?

That’s it.

Create clear lines of separation and a sound filter for all information that is coming in. This will allow you to be a lot more level-headed about separating worth from clutter all while remaining your own strongest, most vibrant, and exuberantly self-loving advocate.

In the comments below, let me know how you experience feedback. How do you incorporate it into your world? If you want to share this post with someone you think might benefit from it, by all means, pass on the love.

xo, Caroline