One sure way to sabotage your personal or professional (which are tightly intertwined) growth is to react emotionally to feedback. We are taught from an early age to “be nice” which often translates into avoiding conflict or confrontations. And that usually quickly becomes “stay silent”. All well and good until we truly have a meaningful insight to share; one function of good life companions is to serve as an objective social mirror, kindly reflecting back to us what we are unable to perceive ourselves.
In the work environment, we receive both insights and oversight, hopefully from those with greater experience/knowledge we can benefit from, even if only the realization that different points of view exist and should be taken into account. One fascinating dynamic I see more often than I would like is the supervisor who asks their team to openly and cheerfully receive feedback yet is challenged to do so themselves.
You cannot not communicate, we have “leaky” faces, our body language loudly broadcasts our feelings, emotions, moods, and reactions even if our lips remain silent. Perfection eludes us all, everyone one of us stumbles and falls; what matters is that we rise and continue onward. One of my most vivid memories is of a time when I reacted emotionally and defensively to feedback/criticism. I didn’t yell or anything, but I certainly wasn’t appreciative or receptive. I emotionally withdrew: my feelings were hurt, my ego bruised. And yet… A small, not so still voice in the back of mind kept saying: You didn’t handle that very well, did you? They meant well; they were trying to help. People are sensitive, perceptive. It often takes courage to speak up. It may not have been your intent, but you shut them down. They learned the price of giving you feedback/information. They may or may not have been right this time but what if they are the next time, but you never hear from them? Plus, did you role model the behavior you wish to teach others?
I slept on it and the next day I sought them out and apologized and thanked them for their thoughts. PS: Years later I decided that they were right.
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” – Abraham Lincoln
“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier