We should always be open to feedback. However, there is great wisdom in deciding what sort of feedback to take, and what sort to ignore.
We can cause ourselves needless pain if we pay heed to the wrong sort of feedback. Particularly where that feedback is of a negative kind. Many of us are wired to pay more attention to negative feedback, with the result that we zero in on that, and ignore everything that is positive about ourselves. I know that I have this tendency myself, and so I keep a close watch on this.
Not all negative feedback is bad for us, however. Where the feedback is constructive, we would do well to pay attention to it, and to look for ways in which to improve. However, we need a bit of wisdom to help us to determine which sort of feedback is actually helpful for us.
In this post, I will advise you on what sort of feedback you can happily ignore.
1. Where the feedback is absolutely not true.
Fact is, you know yourself very well. And your friends, family and colleagues know you very well too. Chances are you have been hearing from them over time about certain qualities you possess. These are things you will also know about yourself.
So, if someone comes along and tells you something that runs completely counter to what you have been consistently hearing for years from your friends and family (and confirming within yourself), alarm bells should go off. Very likely that person is way out of line. I would ignore such feedback.
This is why it is important, as a leader, for you to know yourself, and to build up your self-confidence. Then, no-one can shake you. You will be secure enough to accept true, constructive criticism, and to reject things that do not reflect your true nature.
2. Where the person giving the feedback has an ulterior motive.
Whenever someone gives you critical or negative feedback, first ask yourself if there is any possible truth to the comment. It is a difficult question, but answer it honestly to yourself. Also confirm with those who know you well, to see if they recognize any elements of truth (see point 1. above).
If you do not recognize yourself (and your close friends and colleagues also do not recognize you) in the feedback given, it may well be that something else is at play. Does the person who gave you the feedback have an ulterior motive? Perhaps he is your Manager, and is threatened by your progress at work? This is a likely scenario. The point here is this: don’t swallow all feedback, hook, line, and sinker. If you do not recognize yourself in feedback given, you would be wise to discover if something else is going on behind the comments.
3. Where there is nothing to learn from the feedback.
It could be that the feedback is correct, but that there is nothing for you to learn from it.
If you focus too much on everything you hear about yourself, you risk becoming too introspective, and seeing everything in life as something for you to improve upon.
Stop. Don’t be too down on yourself. For example, if the feedback relates to one of your weaknesses (and we all have those), and you have done all you can to address the issue, and to limit any damage arising from this weakness, there is quite simply, nothing further for you to do. We are all human, and no-one is perfect. The most important thing is to work towards the best results, and to be authentic in all you do.
As leaders, we must be open to feedback. However, we must also know what we should ignore.