How to Handle Feedback

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It's always challenging when someone gives unwanted feedback - especially at a family event. You may find yourself reacting before you know it. The key is to not to go into attack mode or give your power away. 

What makes feedback difficult is that it often catches you off guard. Many arguments start with a negative assumption, not what's actually said!  A simple comment becomes a free for all. NOT fun!

Here's a quick guide to help you avoid trouble and take care of yourself in the process.

Watch assumptions

Be careful of assumptions you've made in the past. When you find yourself dreading Christmas because you think there will be criticism, you're making assumptions based on past behavior.

Assuming the same behavior will happen again sets the stage for resentment. But nothing has happened! Thoughts are powerful and paying attention to them can avoid a blow up.

Recognizing early warning signs of anger is important when you find yourself reacting. Do you notice that your heart-rate increases or you start getting tense in your shoulders? These signs can signal you to stop and take a break.

Check your thoughts

How to handle feedback 

How to handle feedback 

Instead of letting assumptions take over, be in the present. It's tempting to fall back into old negative thoughts. If relatives have criticized you, remember that's in the past. Assuming it will be the same creates the same results. 

Keep doing what you're doing and you'll get what you've always got! Do something different.

Start with a compliment or a joke. Simply saying your feelings are hurt can shift things. Engage with someone you don't usually talk to and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Practice acceptance

When you get upset about feedback, notice the expectations you have around that person. Do you expect them to act better than they do? Expectations are considered to be premeditated resentments.

Personalities don't change much over time, unless of course you are consciously striving to grow. Hoping others will change just fuels the frustration and hurts relationships. 

Instead, practicing the art of acceptance can minimize frustration. Accepting a person doesn't mean you like their behavior. It means they are who they are and that's not necessarily going to change. Simple but not easy.

How to respond to feedback

Here are tips to respond kindly to unwanted feedback.

  • I appreciate your feedback, thanks for sharing.
  • I'm feeling a little hurt/uncomfortable.
  • Can we switch topics?
  • Use humor. 
  • Let me think about that.
  • That's interesting. I'll have to think about that.
  • Politely excuse yourself and take a walk.

Consider the source

If you find yourself still reacting, look for the grain of truth in the feedback. This pays off if you're open to it. Being willing to consider feedback is a sign of emotional intelligence. It's an opportunity to learn about areas of growth that could benefit you in the long run. 

Last but not least, consider the source. If Uncle Joe drinks a lot and pokes fun at your expense, consider the source. Detach. If you don't have much of a relationship with that person (and you don't want one), consider the source.

The feedback still has something to teach you, but you are at choice whether or not you want to consider it. Remember, feedback is more about the person giving it and their life experience, not all about you. It is always their perception. This helps depersonalize it.

How will you handle unwanted feedback?

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