The Gift You’re (Probably) Rejecting

Image Credit: Sebastian Pichler
Image Credit: Sebastian Pichler

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

Nobody enjoys receiving criticism. Whether the “bad news” comes from a client, coworker or a friend, receiving negative feedback is not fun. We instinctively want to defend ourselves and reject the criticism. Unfortunately, that defensive posture often keeps us from gaining value from the experience.

Criticism is an often overlooked way to grow and learn.

One of the best ways that I have found to help learn from criticism is to consciously consider the feedback as a “gift.”

Why Feedback is a Gift

It’s an opportunity to improve.

Now that you know where the hot spots are you can make them better. When you receive feedback, always ask yourself “what can I learn from this?” You can tweak, reformat, regroup and make changes to come out better on the other side.

It shows us our blind spots.

Feedback, whether positive or negative, is an opportunity to see from an outsider’s perspective. If you do any sort of writing you know that typos hide from the writer’s eyes! Only a fresh set of eyes can help us weed out the mistakes. It takes an outsider to make us our best.

It shows a measure of trust.

Negative feedback is hard to receive, but it’s also difficult to give. When someone provides negative feedback it indicates they trust that your relationship is strong enough to handle a little friction. It also shows that they want you to succeed and they care enough to take the time to provide feedback.

It’s not all about you.

Criticism is just as much an insight into the critic as it is about you. Negative feedback is a snapshot of what makes them angry, what’s important to them, their pet peeves and their expectations. You can learn what makes that person “tick.” Listen well and you may be able to avoid future misunderstandings.

The next time you receive negative feedback, I hope you’ll think of it as a gift. Don’t forget to take one small moment to say “thank you.”

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