getting feedback — Part 4: Now what?

June 6, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 3 Comments

OK, so after trying every way possible to get quality feedback, it finally arrives. Now what?

This is by far the hardest part. If the feedback was useful, then some of it was negative. I don’t mean just basic “man do you suck” negative. I mean negative in the sense that it gives you opportunity for improvement.

If you’re like most people, you are not going to react well to hearing negative feedback. The most common reactions are defensiveness (no, you just don’t understand… here’s WHY I did that), anger (that idiot doesn’t know what he’s talking about), then resentment (Oh, so now he wants to be all nice to me?!), which is occasionally followed by pouting (I am going to just quit).

That is a very natural, human reaction to something negative, especially when you’re not used to hearing it. Try to remember these five things as you process it.

1) Time is your friend. Let it go for a while before you respond. Let your emotions run their course. A couple of days is all it takes. If you have to, write out your response to get it off your chest, but do NOT send it! Just stew on it for a couple of days.

2) Don’t go it alone. Get help from someone you can trust to work through it with you.

3) Don’t get someone who will just agree with you. Doing so only adds fuel to your own fire and isn’t going to help you in the long run. We all have — and need — people like this in our lives, but this occasion is one where you’d be better off without them.

4) Do get someone who cares about you, but will be honest. This is often not a “friend” in the true sense of the word. Could be more of a professional acquaintance. And as I’ve said before, a peer to your boss is often a good choice if they know you well enough.

5) You’re strengths can be your weaknesses. One reason why some people get defensive quickly is because the things for which they are being criticized are often the same things that they consider to be their strengths. An old pastor of mine once said, “A person’s weaknesses are often his strengths taken to an extreme.” This is very, very true of almost anyone. I learned this about myself several years ago and it has helped me tremendously. And t’s encouraging because it doesn’t mean you have to fundamentally change the channel; instead, you may just need to turn down the volume a bit!

Keep a positive attitude as you go through review processes. It is so incredibly worth it in the long run.

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