roadening our circle of friends can sometimes feel risky and uncomfortable. Relationships push us to address where we need to grow. It’s easy to feel skittish about hearing criticism—no matter who from or how constructive. It can be stressful, especially if you’ve received poorly conveyed feedback in the past. Anxiety, defensiveness, even fright can arise when someone asks for a minute to talk. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to hear this information without losing your cool or feeling personally attacked.
With effective tools for taking in and processing criticism, we can depersonalize it. Doing so can help us become better friends, co-workers, and leaders.
In the GoodTherapy article, Managing Feedback Gracefully: A Key Skill in the Positive Use of Power, Amanda Aguilera, PsyD, says that receiving (and giving) feedback comes down to acceptance.
“Although we all have both desire for learning, and longing for belonging and acceptance, the need for acceptance is stronger,” Aguilera notes. “So, if we feel our acceptance is at risk, we will tend to avoid giving feedback and/or block receiving it.”
A poor feedback process runs the risk of the recipient feeling unaccepted. On the other hand, feedback delivered thoughtfully can bring depth and strength to the relationship.
As the person receiving feedback, try to find some control over the feedback process. For example, ask for feedback instead of waiting for it to happen. This allows you to set the time and type of feedback. Ask for specific input like, “Do you feel I communicated those concepts clearly?” Other ways to exercise some control include asking to reschedule or asking the other person to speak slowly. This allows for time to process the information.