HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?

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Have Something To Say? August 1, 2011 Yes, the fickle, unpredictable and darling word feedback. It can leave us feeling like we scored an all-expenses-paid weekend at our favorite spa or as though were run over by an 18-wheeler. The latter, unfortunately, can sting so much that it may leave us feeling recoiled, damaged or insignificant. While it may not always be delivered tactfully, taking in what another person has to say as gracefully as we can is paramount to our survival. If we are not learning and growing then we are stagnating and languishing, much to our detriment. Unless we are narcissists (and for those of you who are, we’re not judging), most of us will admit that we have areas in our self-development that could use a tune-up from time to time. Regardless of whether the feedback is from our significant other, kids, friends or even the hot man or woman in uniform who pulls us over for not coming to a complete stop, it is an opportunity to question something about ourselves that left unchecked could make for a bumpy journey. In the April 2011 Psychology Today article titled “A Chic Critique,” the author Karen Wright writes, “ What hurts most in negative feedback isn’t the overt content of the message so much as the threat of exclusion, abandonment and ostracism that accompanies it.” That argument resonates strongly. At the core, is it not it everyone’s desire to feel loved and included? When we are threatened by negative feedback it is natural to want to reject, or worse, attack the other person’s integrity. “Who does he think he is?” “Oh and I’m the one who needs to change? Please!” “She just says things like that to feel in control and more powerful.” Sound familiar? Rationalizing what we hear so that it fits our story is one way to make sense of the sting, but how helpful is it to our long-term growth? Years ago one of us here at BUTTERFLY received harrowing feedback from a manager. It was painful, mostly because she recognized it was true, but hearing it compelled her to do something about it. For her the quote rang very true: “The pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.” What can you do differently the next time you receive not-so-welcome feedback? For starters, how about approaching it from a place of curiosity and interest? By asking questions we have the opportunity to receive in-depth information about our behavior and voila – create an opportunity for a little internal makeover. It is human nature to close ourselves up to feedback that is threatening and requires us to make a change in our behavior or how we do things. Steel yourself for the next wave of feedback that may be coming your way. Rather than allowing it to drive a wedge between you and the person giving feedback, consider it a priceless gift in disguise which once fully unwrapped offers both purpose and possibilities as you trek on your journey. And what gal doesn’t love a gift?

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