Get Beyond the Sting of Feedback...
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Hello Educators! As always, I send love and positivity to you and yours. Most of us are already over the halfway mark of this summer and are either deeply engaged in summer activities, planning for the upcoming school year, or a bit of both. Whichever end you are on, I hope you take time to unplug fully before the school year resumes because once it does, there is no recapturing of forfeited downtime.
Question for you…how is your relationship with feedback? Do you seek it? Dread it? When it comes knocking on your door, unsolicited, how do you respond? Are you open or defensive? How much of a role does the actual messenger play in your willingness to receive what is being shared? And finally, what do all of your responses to these questions say about you and your willingness to look within and potentially grow?
I recently had a conversation with a friend where an opinion was stated that was contrary to how I see myself. My initial gut reaction was…” hmm, that’s interesting. Clearly, you don’t know me well enough.” Post conversation, the ongoing contemplation was…” Really? Well, here are the many examples that prove otherwise.” To finally, “you know, could there be a small bit (just the tiniest bit…lol) of truth in what was said and potentially room for me to lean into this area a bit more?” When I landed on that last thought I actually started to resume the sense of being fully in control of my response and any next steps that took place. All other thoughts required full denial, defensiveness, or frustration with the communicating party. None of which hold any real value.
Although I remain focused on working towards being the best version of myself, it is interesting how easily thrown off I was when life was helping me out in this quest with one of the greatest gifts…feedback. Maybe it was due to my lack of anticipation of it showing up in the way that it did, from the person it did, or when. Either way, here it was, and I had a decision to make. Dismiss it or consider it.
Considering does not mean I accept it as truth but that I am at the very least, willing to create space for honest reflection that may reveal a different reality than the one I currently hold.
The truth is, there is the me that I believe I am portraying and then there is the me that others experience. This is not an argument against authenticity or bowing to the opinions of others. If you have read any number of my posts, you know that I am all about showing up authentically and owning and speaking your truth. The point of this post is to realize the power we hold to become more authentically aligned with who we are by using those gifted to us to show us yet another perspective.
Stephen Covey, the best-selling author of, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says it well…
“It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.”
As long as we are alive, life's work is ever-present. We are constantly given opportunities to evolve, shift, and change for the better if we choose to view them as such. These gifts can come in packages we approve of and people we respect and appreciate, or they can come from those who may have caused us frustration or even pain. The point is to consider with reflection rather than move to immediate dismissal. We live in a world where it is easy to decide that we already know and thus need not engage in any additional seeking. We are bombarded with information that potentially keeps us ignorant of the truth and we are left unconsciously making mental calculations with limited perspective.
So, how can we shift and begin to not only leverage the feedback we receive but get to a place where we begin to seek it out? Here are a few ideas…
Engage life with a sense of curiosity that allows you to become an investigator and learner of self. Doing so will keep you in a state of readiness to respond rather than react when unexpected information comes your way.
Choose to listen fully…without a ready rebuttal. Those delivering feedback are often having just as much of a challenge providing it as you are receiving. Creating space to listen fully will likely allow you to better understand what is being said even though it may not come out as clearly as one may desire.
Steer clear of quick dismissals depending on the source. Be open to the reality that feedback can come from any messenger. Students, parents, supervisors, colleagues, partners, children, even pets can be sources of feedback when we remain open. Although it may not always take our optional format, it is feedback, nonetheless.
Be open, yet unattached to the feedback you receive. Consider the feedback being provided, reflect, possibly ask for a second opinion if you fully disagree, and if it does not resonate, you can take what works and dismiss the rest. We should be clear that agreement does not always equal alignment and there are times when feedback is something to consider that, upon closer review, does not support the truth of where or who we are.
View feedback as possible insight and not a source of definition. We are multi-layered and no one source of information can accurately speak to the complexity that resides within us. Our ability to consider what we hear without having it impact our self-perception is critical.
Take action. Feedback is only as good as it is acted upon. After accepting that this is an area that deserves attention, determine what your next steps will be and proceed with what is required to bring about change.
As educators, there is no shortage of feedback being provided consistently. How we choose to engage will determine whether we find ourselves depleted or supported by the avalanche of advice and opinion. We cannot always control how the information comes or through whom but we can adopt a process that supports growth and our overall well-being when we encounter feedback.
So, which idea resonates most for you? Drop it in the comments below. And...feel free to like and share. Until next time...to our growth.
In Solidarity and Love,