Imagine this situation. You're waiting in line at your grocery store. As you approach the checkout counter, someone skips the line and gets in front of you. You're annoyed. You're late for an appointment and tired. You become restless and angry.
Now imagine the same scene, except that you've just received wonderful news. You're in a good mood. When the person is in front of you, you decide to let him go and focus on your positive news.
Your thoughts and feelings affect the way you act in a situation. The same is true when you receive feedback. When you feel angry, tired, or overwhelmed and someone gives you what they think is constructive advice, that can make you feel like a failure. On the other hand, if you feel happy or excited you may be more likely to listen to the advice, but not get hung up on it.
The trick is to appreciate feedback and use it constructively without fixating on it, no matter what mood you're in. Feedback is important for your development, but it is only one person's opinion. And even if a few people say the same thing and it's not so positive, that's okay. Everybody makes mistakes. It's what you do with that feedback that matters.
Here are four steps on how to improve your response to feedback:
- Take a step back.
Don't react immediately — take time to process the information. If you're feeling a little down, try not to think about it right away. Instead tell the other person you'll need some time to process it.
- Don't fixate on negative or positive feedback.
Feedback that is too positive can be unrealistic and cause a blind spot. Take a balanced view of feedback from all angles to get a well-rounded perspective.
- Thirdly, separate opinions and facts.
Opinions can be useful, but that is one person's view. Focus on the facts and take into account multiple opinions.
- Fourth, focus on the future.
We all have development potential. The key is to use feedback as an opportunity to improve in the future. Remember that you can always improve your performance or behaviour, so don't dwell on it.
To put this into action, think of an event you recently received feedback on. First, write down the event with a negative view. Next, do the same thing but with a positive view. Choose your story and apply it each time you receive feedback.