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How to Deal With Receiving Feedback

Nobody likes being criticised but receiving feedback on how we have performed in a particular task is something that you will continue to get throughout your whole life.

The quicker we accept that feedback is essential to our personal growth, the quicker we will become less hostile to it and take it as an opportunity to learn. Follow this piece of advice to learn how to accept criticisms with grace and humility, instead of responding back with an angry email or throwing a tantrum.

It’s good for growth!

why we don’t like receiving it?

Criticism, which is what feedback is by another name, hurts which is why we don’t like receiving it. Our identity is kept stable most of the time because we are able to balance our own internal voices of criticisms and block out others but feedback cuts across this and disrupts this balance by intruding. By suggesting that there are things to improve, it reaffirms that we are not perfect, despite our mental images of ourselves, and it is this which hurts our ego by making us feel inadequate. But this feeling of inadequacy, though unbearable as it may seem, is a good feeling as it is where growth and personal development happens.

When we feel inadequate in our ability we have two options: either we can learn from the feedback and improve ourselves, or we can become bitter and risk hearing this same feedback again. Accepting the importance of feedback to your growth will make it a little easier to swallow.

It’s not personal!

Feedback or constructive criticism

You can also wash it down more easily by acknowledging that it is not personal. Feedback or constructive criticism is not an attack on your character or person. You, as an individual, are not being judged so decouple your feedback from yourself and, instead, attach it to your work or performance - which is what is being assessed. This means that your performance did not do well not necessarily that you as an individual are a failure. There is an important distinction between both. The advice also goes for the person giving the feedback.

Don’t take it personally from them as well. They are not giving the feedback as your friend, but rather as your assessor, teacher, expert etc. This is not their personal opinion of you but their professional assessment of your performance. Maintaining this professionalism between the person receiving and giving the feedback should cushion your ego a little.You can also wash it down more easily by acknowledging that it is not personal. Feedback or constructive criticism is not an attack on your character or person. You, as an individual, are not being judged so decouple your feedback from yourself and, instead, attach it to your work or performance - which is what is being assessed. This means that your performance did not do well not necessarily that you as an individual are a failure. There is an important distinction between both. The advice also goes for the person giving the feedback.

It is also worthwhile to remember the purpose of giving feedback which is to help you improve and is not intended as a malicious attack to defame your honour. It’s meant as a helpful advice to help you do even better next time and ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes, so it’s for your benefit and not an opportunity for your assessor to mock or laugh at you.

Ask for clarity!

we may receive feedback that we don’t necessarily agree

Sometimes we may receive feedback that we don’t necessarily agree with or believe that it fairly reflects how we have performed. In these situations, you have a couple of options. You can speak to the person giving feedback and discuss why they have assessed you in a particular way or ask for further clarifications on their feedback. Hearing out their justifications first is a better alternative than diving in and accusing them of foul play. Giving them this opportunity may also surprise you and you may come to agree with their assessment, having heard their side of the story.

For you, as well, it gives you an opportunity to discuss your own reasons for having chosen a particular method and the two of you can debate the merits of both your methods and come to a conclusion. Remember that your assessor is likely to be someone with more expertise and experience than you so their judgement is backed by several years of honing their assessment skills – so it is unlikely that they have no idea what they are talking about.

If both approaches don’t work and the two of you are set in your own approaches then you might just have to agree to disagree or if they’re your senior then you will have to take a slice of humble pie and accept the verdict, unfortunately.