Feedback about our behavior is all around us. We step on the scale and we get feedback about how much we weigh and, indirectly, about behaviors that cause our weight to go up or down. We don’t always like the feedback we get but we don’t argue with it. Even if the scale is off by a couple of pounds, we accept what it tells us.
With people, we’re far less accepting. We treat feedback we don’t like as criticism. True, much of the feedback we receive is unskillfully delivered. But even when feedback is offered with our best interests at heart, we tend to deflect it. In so doing we also dismiss observations about our behavior that can actually help us be more effective in critical areas of our work and lives.
I was recently reminiscing with my brother (a child psychologist by training) about a recent family reunion. It was an innocent conversation until the moment he told me what he thought about how I treated my teenage daughter in a conversation he overheard. Wham. I never saw it coming and I wasn’t happy to hear what he had to say. He moved on, but I couldn’t. In the moment I was emotionally stuck and couldn’t get past my reactions to what he had said.
Once I calmed down I realized there are two ways I generally respond to feedback I don’t like, including my brother’s: Continue reading