“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” ~ Ken Blanchard
I used to be afraid of honest feedback…I took it as a personal attack against me, and I never wanted to hear it. As I’ve walked my path of transformational growth, I’ve come to realize: feedback is my friend, not my enemy!
Whenever I say that phrase, I think of Bruce, from Finding Nemo. “Fish are friends, not food!”
My history with feedback is complicated, at best. I enjoyed hearing it if it was “positive” feedback, yet I simultaneously deflected it, thinking I wasn’t good enough to be receiving positive feedback. “Negative” feedback stuck with me, and I’d repeat it to myself endlessly and used it as proof to confirm my "I'm not good enough" beliefs.
Now I know that feedback is just feedback. It’s neither positive nor negative -- it just IS. And whether or not I choose to label it as “positive” or “negative” is up to me. It all comes back to, you might’ve guessed it, The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally [from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements]. In the past, I’d often take feedback negatively -- I thought of it as a burden and further evidence for why I was the worst.
In the present, I see it as a gift! When I am open to [and seek out] feedback about how I show up in the world, I have an opportunity to significantly up my personal growth, and therefore have more positive interactions with other people and the world!
I’ve noticed that the most insightful feedback for me is usually the feedback that I have the strongest immediate physical reaction to.
For example, last month I was in the Dubai airport with my family of 8 [my hubsby, my parents, my brother Sean & sister-in-law Tracy + their 2 daughters]. I was standing with Eric & my parents, about 30 feet away from Sean & Tracy & the girls, who were on the other side of the shuffling mob that was pushing to board the plane. I said something to my mom, and she looked at me and asked me, “Why are you so pissed off?”
I immediately felt my blood starting to boil and I probably had daggers in my eyes, and if it hadn’t been for E standing behind her, wide-eyed and giving me the “IT’S NOT WORTH IT” head shake, I probably would’ve exploded with anger.
Well, folks, not surprisingly…she was obviously right. And I didn’t appreciate her pointing that out to me…in the moment. After a few minutes of silently asking my righteous self “HOW DARE SHE?” and “WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?” I realized she was totally right, I was pissed [and I don’t remember why anymore]. -_-
Her reality slap of honest feedback opened my eyes to the opportunity I had before me: continue to act pissy, or be a kind person. I calmed down and chose to be nice again.
People deliver feedback in many different ways and sometimes they might not even know they’re doing it. I’ve noticed that opening myself up to it has had a very positive impact on my personal development. By welcoming feedback, I’m increasing my self-awareness, and learning more about how I do and don’t want to show up in the world.
My suggestion when it comes to feedback is:
Don’t take it personally. Don’t take feedback as a personal attack. It takes two [or more] people to give feedback, and that means that there are two [or more] people’s beliefs, biases, experiences, insecurities, intentions, etc. on the table. Being open to all feedback, doesn’t mean that all feedback will be true or relevant for you. Just because it’s someone else’s experience of you, that doesn’t mean it defines you. Stay true to your authentic self as you explore whether or not certain feedback sticks with you, and if it doesn’t, then be thankful for it and then let it go. If it does, then think about why it rang true with you, and decide whether or not you’d make the same choice in the future.
In light of my developing friendship with feedback, I attended my first ever Toastmasters meeting last night! I’ve wanted to improve my speaking skills [in all areas of my life] for a long time, so I’m finally taking steps toward doing that in a guided & structured way. I’m excited to learn more about effective communication, and I’m sure what I learn will spill over into my writing. :) Exciting times ahead!