… and it’s unexpected, confronting and challenging. Right now it may feel like it’s not actionable, specific or kind. It might not be timely. It might feel like it attacks the very core of your identity. But despite how it feels or how you got to the point that this feedback was given, I think that it’s important to step back and remember that feedback more often than not comes with good intent.
Receiving challenging feedback is tough, but giving it is also hard. You know that you will likely hurt someone’s feelings, ruin their day or risk damaging a good relationship. If you didn’t care and it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t give the feedback. So, the feedback you received comes from a place of care.
Of course, listening to this feedback is difficult and it’s probably the hardest part. When it’s over there’s shock, a rush of emotions and it may take some time to fully absorb. Once you’ve managed to process and reflect, which may take days, the hard part is over. You get to choose how to respond:
- Forget about it and ignore it. Who cares what they think!
- Allow negative emotions to take control and get defensive, depressed, throw blame, get back at others, etc.
- Recognise this as an opportunity to grow
No-one but you can make this choice and only one of them will ultimately make you happy. That’s the option where you take feedback as a great bit of info that will help you grow personally and professionally. I’m here to help and support you through that, so when you’re ready let’s get to work.
A while back I wrote the above for a follow-up session for a team member who received some challenging feedback. The same week I wrote it, 2 completely un-related people asked for similar advice. There’s a lot of literature out there on how to provide good feedback. There are models that can be used filled with trademark phrases (Radical Candour I’m looking at you) and feel-good advice, the purpose of which is to make you think you can just give challenging feedback and everything will be OK.
The reality is that regardless of how well you craft your feedback or what model you use, humans are not perfectly rational and the person receiving it will unavoidably still feel terrible. Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, I hope this can help you and others in the aftermath to derive something positive and productive from what’s normally seen as a very negative experience.