Receiving Feedback with Grace and Dignity, Part One
Posted by Anni M.
If only we lived in a world devoid of judgment, where our own opinions mattered most. If only we were objective observers of our own actions, capable of policing our work with 100% accuracy. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum. Our work is never complete without a second opinion. Ideally, that second opinion arrives before the work is complete, giving us a chance to address problems before we present the final product. Often, though, opinions arrive after we’ve finished the project. Those are always the hardest opinions to hear.
We’re only human. We all make mistakes. These are phrases you’ve heard your whole life and yet, when it comes to your own work you may be hesitant to embrace them. Working hard on a project, giving it your all, means opening yourself up to disappointment, feelings of inadequacy, and ego-smashing critique. The best of us, however, absorb those critiques in stride. These are people who learn from their mistakes because they’re able to tame their defenses, their fears, and their self-criticism long enough to listen. It is impossible to be objective all the time. This is especially true when you’ve been immersed in a project over a long period of time. The more we focus on the details, the easier it is to lose perspective on the big picture. The opinions of our peers help us identify our own failings, the holes in our logic.
The first step in receiving feedback gracefully is learning to diffuse your defense mechanism. We all have one, that poised dragon ready to leap at the slightest provocation. It’s our in-born protector and sometimes it serves us well. If you are wrongly accused of a crime or, more benignly, are unjustly attacked in a social situation, being defensive is appropriate and helpful. But when you are receiving constructive criticism, being defensive is a brick wall between you and your objectivity. Taming defensiveness encourages others to give you the feedback you need.
Suspend your judgment to promote objectivity. If you leap to judge the feedback you receive, you won’t recognize the truth in the feedback. Quick judgment and defensiveness go hand-in-hand.
Summarize and repeat what you hear. If you can put feedback into your own words, you’ll be more likely to internalize the information. Next time you’re faced with a similar project, you’ll remember the lesson you learned the first time around.
Check back in tomorrow for more tips on how to receive feedback gracefully and with dignity.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..