Conflict is a concept many of us try to avoid at all cost. Whether it is with co-workers, a team member, or family members, the source of conflict that many times puts a “pit in our stomach” can be the direct result of feedback.
So how do we take tough feedback and make it constructive conflict instead of letting it blind us, derail our progress, and cause emotional turmoil within us for days? Morag Barrett, author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships, has this advice from her article called “6 Tips for Hearing Tough Feedback”: “When we don’t hear feedback “in the moment,” then acknowledge and act on it rather than worry about it, we lose an opportunity to change our game and even raise it, as needed.”
Of course, when feedback comes your way, you don’t need to act immediately, or act every time. However, we do need to make sure we listen. Stopping to listen to the whole message will allow you the time to let the “fight or flight” message to your brain dissipate. Learning to stay calm will only enhance your effectiveness as a communicator.
Here are 5 steps to help process the negative feedback:
1. When feedback runs counter to your views say “Thank you”.
Now I know that seems counter-intuitive, but this approach will create a sense of respect and keep the channels of communication open for a later time. Check out Dan Rockwell’s advice where he shares “Seven Positive Responses to Negative Feedback”.
2. Is there any truth in the feedback?
There may be only a nugget of truth, but that knowledge could be the game-changer for you as a communicator.
3. Does the feedback have a familiar ring, as in have you heard this about your performance before?
Patterns of behavior are another moment of truth that needs to be examined. Not only at work, but as a partner/family member as well.
4. Listen with curiosity.
This will allow your rational thinking brain to kick in.
5. Ask questions for clarification of the behaviors the feedback is referring to.
By asking questions you may actually find answers you may never have considered.
As a fact of life, conflict due to feedback has been the key to our success as a civilization and as a person, no matter how much it hurts. Without it we would fall prey to complacency and shortsightedness. Taking these five steps to hearing tough feedback will bring you closer to your expectations of success.