When it comes to receiving feedback, it's only natural to feel a bit uneasy. This unease is rooted in our human psyche and is something that affects us all. Let's explore why this happens and how we can manage it.
Feedback triggers a mix of emotions. It's not uncommon to feel a bit off-balance when hearing someone's thoughts about our performance or actions. This unease is a reaction to the potential gap between how we see ourselves and how others perceive us.
Our ego, that protective layer of our self-image, often jumps in when faced with feedback. It tries to shield us from discomfort by rationalizing, downplaying, or even dismissing the feedback. This is a common defense mechanism we all employ to protect our self-esteem.
Ironically, within this discomfort lies an opportunity for growth. Feedback is a mirror reflecting areas where we can improve, even if it's not always easy to accept. The key is to recognize the unease as a sign that we're on the brink of progress. Managing the uneasy feelings that come with feedback requires balance. Acknowledge the discomfort without letting it hinder your ability to objectively assess the feedback. Instead of avoiding or rejecting it, approach feedback with an open mind and willingness to learn.
Rather than letting discomfort hold us back, we can use it as a stepping stone. Embrace the fact that feeling uneasy is a part of the growth process. It's an indicator that we're stretching beyond our comfort zone and striving for improvement.
Receiving feedback requires conscious effort and here are some tips I have used to help me cope with the feelings of unease during feedback sessions.
Practice Active Listening: Give the speaker your full attention, avoid interrupting, let speaker finish what they have to say, then ask clarifying questions if needed.
Stay Open-Minded: Remind yourself that it is an opportunity to approach feedback with a willingness to learn and improve, recognizing that growth often comes from acknowledging areas for development.
Separate the Message from the Messenger: Focus on the feedback itself, not just the person delivering it. Constructive criticism can come from a place of care and support.
Stay Calm: If the feedback is unexpected or uncomfortable, take a moment to collect your thoughts before responding. Avoid becoming defensive or reactive.
Ask for Clarification: Seek additional details if you're unclear about certain aspects of the feedback. This demonstrates your commitment to understanding and learning.
Express Gratitude: Regardless of the feedback's nature, always thank the person for taking the time to provide their insights. This shows maturity and respect.
Body Language to Avoid: Don't forget to relax your body stature and keep in mind that crossed arms can convey defensiveness; avoiding eye contact may signal discomfort or dishonesty; and fidgeting excessively can indicate nervousness. Nodding slowly with a amicable smile while you breathe might help you manage the uncomfortable situation.