I don’t know about you but learning to accept feedback was one of the hardest things to do growing up. I was and, at times, still am a know-it-all. And with know-it-alls comes pride, so it can feel like a jab at your pride when someone gives you feedback. How toxic, I know, but we all have our flaws. So how do you learn to graciously accept feedback and learn from it without any negative feelings or reactions?
Learning to accept feedback
Don’t take things personally
Constructive criticism can make us feel defensive. All we can think about is why is someone pointing out all of my mistakes? If someone is in the position to give you feedback or constructive criticism, they usually want you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Growth is uncomfortable, and a big part of growth is someone pushing you to be the best you can be.
Your boss or colleague isn’t trying to tear you down for the sport of it unless they are evil and mean people. Most of the time, what we think is a personal attack is someone looking out for us to be better. Wouldn’t you rather have someone call you out on behavior that can be fixed or improved in a safe space than when it’s too late, and you make a mistake and the worst time possible?
Actively listen and question
When someone is actively constructively criticizing you and giving you feedback, instead of feeling defensive, you should go into the meeting with the plan to actively listen. Hear what they are telling you so that you can reflect on it and try to implement those changes in your everyday life.
Active listening, in general, is a skill that we should all be using more frequently in our daily lives. Instead of spending your time internally freaking out about what is said to you, take a moment to hear what is said. Maybe your coworker is making a good point. After you receive your feedback, take the time to think about it. Reflection is a big part of actively growing.
And if the feedback wasn’t clear or too vague, ask questions. Ask for clarification and get to the core of the problem. Make sure that your questions are calm and collected. If you go about it the wrong way, your questions can sound whiny or defensive, overshadowing their actual purpose of clarifying the stated feedback.
Look for feedback more often than not
I know it sounds crazy, but actively looking for feedback is a great habit of getting into if you are trying to grow. We can be blind to our flaws, bad habits, or mistakes, so actively and habitually seeking feedback is a great way to keep the momentum of growth going. In addition, it’s a way of holding ourselves accountable. We spend so much time telling ourselves what we want in life, but maybe we never actually start the steps to get there. (Think about how often we fail New Year’s resolutions and goals.) Searching for feedback is a great way to remind ourselves that we are working towards our goals and can “shock the system” into keeping going instead of losing our fire.
Make the change
Getting feedback is great, although sometimes intimidating, but feedback is worthless if you don’t make any changes. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” I would have way more money than I do now. But it’s true. If you want to change something in your life, it is up to you to do it. Someone can help you by keeping you accountable, but those are just words, and the only thing that will evoke change in your life is you. It can be hard, but nothing in life worth having is easy.