When I got my first appraisal report at my last job, my eyes jumped straight to the end of the excel sheet, past the red highlights of the job description, past the success metrics and performance indices, and past the numeric computation captured on the far right. I was purely fixated on the comments, hungry to devour the three-sentence perception my line manager had of me.
And then, I saw it. “She should be more open to feedback.”
My first reaction was a quiet rage that slowly brewed in self-righteous anger. It was obvious to me back then that my boss wanted a robot. Someone who would nod at her every whim, take notes and implement without any pushback. Of course I was an independent self starter. A professional who would stand by what she believed was right. So, clearly, my boss was intimidated and expressed it in her comment.
By now you are probably thinking: Yeah, she was right. My relationship with feedback, negative, even positive, has often felt like a long, drawn out quarrel, with me trying to explain and reason and defend. I have since learnt that feedback can be a wonderful catalyst for productivity if we learn how to milk it for what its worth.
If you have ever been like me and struggled to take feedback, here are a few tips to help you reappraise.
A person can throw a pile of dirty words at you, but if you take time to glean through them, you may find a phrase that is not completely useless. Okay, Not 100 percent of the time, but you get the gist. For me, I found it was really helpful to stop myself in the middle of my mental outrage and read again. Or in some cases, listen in the quiet of the night, after the day has come and gone. I could dig up the words again and let them dance around in my mind. Then I ask myself: What if? What if its true that I throw tantrums? What if its true that I am not patient?
Listening has pushed me to depths of self-reflection that was really beneficial to my self improvement.
Don’t personalise it
So your friend may secretly beef you because that one time in secondary school you had all A’s and she merely scraped by with Cs and Bs. Or maybe your boss hates your guts because you are so smart and personable and everybody loves you, right? Wrong. It’s not really a great idea to take feedback based on who is giving it. If someone has an opinion of it, try not to make it about their relationship to you. This is because those who are close to you will make excuses anyway. The best people to say things as they are are probably those who don’t feel responsible for how happy you are at any given moment. Think about it, your friends and family probably make excuses for your gaps. So take advantage of the truth, even if it doesn’t come from the channel you prefer.
Make necessary adjustments
Finally, it’s not really about making the person who gave the feedback feel better. It’s about you becoming an improved version. In my case, I realise there was a part of me that would compulsively defend my work or my position, and this was not beneficial to the team. I started to take more corrections, make small pockets of adjustments. And then, the general quality of my work improved drastically.
Now how about you? Do you have tips on how you’ve learned to embrace feedback? Please share in the comment section.