02 Sep

Receiving feedback

“All learning has an emotional base.”   – Plato

Have you ever received feedback that made you angry? Or embarrassed? Sad? Or even happy? (let’s not forget the good stuff!)

Receiving feedback usually triggers an emotion, no matter how ‘thick skinned’ or emotionally stable we might be. If we are emotionally intelligent and consider feedback as a chance to learn, then others may not see the emotion externally, however we still feel it.

An emotion felt about feedback is normal. IT’S OK!

Emotions kick-start the processing of feedback. Of course, not everyone can easily get past the emotion and make rational decisions about what they are hearing. But there are some things you can do to help you not get ‘stuck’ on the emotion.

  • Start with an open mind – feedback is an opportunity to learn. Even if you don’t agree with the comments, it’s a chance to understand one person’s perspective of your actions.
  • Listen actively – allow the other person time to speak and listen carefully and respectfully.
  • Be aware of your emotions – recognise that you are having an internal emotional response and manage it externally. If you are pleased with the feedback, don’t jump up and down or pump the air – a smile is fine, but don’t get too excited! If you are upset by the feedback, try concentrating on your breathing or clench your stomach muscles as a distraction (it works!).
  • Seek clarity – if anything is unclear, calmly ask questions for understanding “To help me understand, could you give me an example of what you are describing?”; “What did I do well?” (yes, clarity about good feedback is also important!); “Just so I am clear, I think this is what you are saying…?”
  • Say thankyou – whether the feedback is positive or constructive, or you agree with it or not, always say thank you – it shows respect for someone who has taken time to provide it and also may help you appear (and even feel) in control of your emotions.
  • Reflect – you may need some space to think about the feedback. It’s OK to say “I need time to process this – can I come back to you if we need to discuss this further?” Reflect on whether you think the feedback is honest, realistic and requiring action.

Remember, feedback is an opportunity to learn. Someone’s perception of you may not be the ‘truth’ of you, however it is still valuable information to consider.

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