Truly honest feedback is rarer than an empty parking lot at Costco.
Most times we are scared to be too harsh, because we don’t want to offend the person. It’s good to remember that giving honest and caring feedback is difficult for others as well.
(Yes, I do realize that sometimes people give feedback that is intentionally cruel, often hiding behind false names in the feedback section. Today’s lesson helps with that as well.)
Either way, what is the first thing you should do when you hear negative feedback, and your heart starts racing a little bit?
I have developed a response that helps me to NOT overreact, and to make certain I’m hearing effectively. Here is Dr. Rob’s “1-2-3 Response for Receiving Negative Feedback.”
Take 1 deep breath.
We all know there are benefits to being mindful, noticing your breathing, and meditation. I don’t do those things, but I probably should. But I do know that even 1 purposeful breath resets my mind and emotions under fire… and two long breaths looks like I’m stalling.
It helps immensely to think about your breath! Try it now. Take a deep breath and think about your chest expanding, then the air being exhaled through your nose. Now, try it again! This time pretend you have just heard some hurtful, negative feedback… now take that breath!
Do you see how thinking about that breath, takes away some of the emotional sting of what you heard… allowing you to respond less emotionally and more practically? If you did this exercise, you already see the difference. If you skipped it, you won’t remember to try it when you are under fire.
Now give a 2-step response.
“Thank you for giving me that feedback, I really appreciate you making that effort. May I ask a follow-up question?”
Always thank them. If they were being mean, at least you know where they stand! But most times, people want to help you. Either way, I’d rather have negative feedback that is expressed than negative thoughts that I know nothing about.
But about that follow-up question… this question will depend on what they said!
Thank them, then ask a kind and meaningful question.
Offer a 3-part conclusion.
1. Again, I want to thank you.
2. You pointed out that ...(summarize their heart concern).
3. As a result, I want you do know that ... (MY RESPONSE). It could be any of these or something else:
Negative feedback is difficult. Often, it is exactly what we need to begin to recognize a blind spot. Other times, it’s meant only to hurt us. Either way, we alone are responsible for our reaction, both internally and externally.
Respond wisely. You will grow. Often you win a friend. And you always know that you can and will hold it together under pressure.
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