Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Feedback: A Gift Many People Reject

If you're like me, one of the hardest things you have to do in life is listen to someone tell you that you're not perfect. Now they don't come right out and say that, of course. Most take a more subtle approach. They point out something you've done - or haven't done - that they don't like.

The problem is, when you're receiving this kind of feedback, your natural inclination is to defend yourself. Explain your rationale for doing something. Make excuses. Often you're not listening because you're waiting for your turn to talk so you can justify your actions.

What you're really doing is rejecting a gift that someone is trying to give you. We all have blind spots, and this person is attempting to remove the scales that keep you from seeing yourself as others see you.

Think for a moment what's going on in the mind of the feedback giver before he speaks with you. Most likely, what you said or did has been bothering him for a while. He's spent time rehearsing how he's going to approach you and what he's going to say. It takes courage for him to bring a problem behavior to your attention, and he's not sure how you're going to react.

What if you simply said, "Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I didn't realize I did that."

Now you've defused a potentially confrontational situation and made it possible for dialogue to happen. You can calmly explore what aspects of your behavior have caused problems and what that person would like you to do differently.

Next time someone gives you constructive feedback, take this approach. I guarantee the outcome will be more positive than what you may have experienced in the past.


  1. This event is a momentous one...because if you reject the gift once, you'll probably never be offered it again!

  2. Hi Meredith. For the feedback giver, I suggest "pre-framing", e.g., "I have something that may be difficult for you to hear, would you like to hear it?" This connotes caring and safety. The "receiver" has to test their present state of resilience, and their "openness to influence". If both hearts are "right", then a caring and encouraging connection is made. Great post! -Thomas

  3. Great point, Thomas. I totally agree that both parties have to be in a frame of mind that allows them to connect. Pre-framing is a great way for the feedback giver to check if the other person is in the right "place" to receive the information. Thanks for the enrichment.

  4. I can't imagine myself moving forward in life when actually iam doing something wrong that was misperceived by other this is why i embrace constructive feedback .


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