Do you take it personally?

Did you ever receive clumsy feedback on the identity level that made you feel hurt, scared and worthless? Most of us did…

The distinction between the levels of being and doing might help to receive feedback gracefully. If you imagine two circles, the inner circle is your being. It is not directly visible on the outside, but it is inside the outer circle of what you are doing.
What you are doing is visible on the outside and though inspired by your being, it is not who you are. It represents your skills and actions and they can be learned and unlearned. This circle of doing varies way more than the inner circle of being.

You can change your outfit, your car, your behaviors and skills – but your identity is safely tucked inside of you. Don’t pull criticism inside your sacred space. You are worthy as a unique person on this earth even if you could improve some behaviors.

Though this is a rational reflection on an emotional response to feedback, remembering this might help you to not take feedback as a personal offense.

I have often used it with clients and I wish everyone could apply this advice: Do not take it personally. Do not project feedback onto your identity. It is not who you are.

Don’t rush to conclusions

By default, do not take personally what others do. Every time that you feel triggered about something someone did or didn’t do remember to not take it personally. There is probably a more positive explanation than that they are out to get you, humiliate or forget you. Before you have asked them, don’t assume the worst.

In general, other people’s behavior says more about them than about you. For instance, they didn’t email back because they were inundated with work, not because they don’t value you. They are simply in survival mode. Do not take it personally. (Only if they confirm to your face that it is personal.)

In addition to this logic, it might be helpful to see feedback as learning. Stanford professor Carol Dweck discerns a fixed and a growth mindset, based on her research. If you have a fixed mindset you tend to see yourself and your qualities as carved in stone, while the growth mindset sees the Self as in learning mode. There is no failure because you are a work-in-progress, continuously developing yourself.

Also helpful is to remember that everyone has their own perception of reality. What someone tells you as feedback is true for them but it may not be “the truth” about you.

Everyone has their own perception of reality. What is yours? Click To Tweet

Brené Brown says: “Vulnerability is at the heart of the feedback process. It doesn’t go away, even if we’re trained in feedback. Experience however, gives us the advantage of knowing we can survive the exposure and that it may be worth the risk! We can change and learn something from feedback given “with love”.”
So, it is okay to feel vulnerable every now and then. But there’s no need to be afraid of feedback. It is information on the outside. It is not who you are, inside.

In my book, I’ll share my advice on how to give and receive negative feedback. For now, I hope this logical response to feedback may be helpful to you!

This is book post #63 – Part “YOU”

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for May 2018! More information and registration is available on a first come first serve basis.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

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  1. Jennifer Beth Blake

    A short piece that could have a great impact on people and empower them when on the receiving end of poorly delivered feedback.