I have heard feedback is a gift. And, I have finally come to believe it wholeheartedly.
A few years ago, I was struggling through a time of major change at work. Frankly, I was acting negatively (more than I like to admit.) I realized I was prone to making comments in meetings that were coming from a position of defensiveness. Armed with this awareness and a sincere desire to squelch the unproductive behavior, I entered a meeting one day determined to speak only if I had something positive to say. As the meeting progressed, discussion flowed as I had expected it to. I felt a negative emotional reaction welling inside me. But, true to my plan, I kept my mouth shut. I was able to contribute positively later in the meeting, and I left it feeling quite proud of myself.
A few hours later, one of my colleagues and I discussed the topic that had sparked my emotions in the meeting. I told him that a snippy comment had entered my head but I kept it inside. He said, with a smile, “That’s when you got that look on your face.” Wow, a noticeable look on my face. I had no idea! I thanked him for cluing me in and have tried to make good use of that knowledge. The feedback incident that I just shared was a positive one. My colleague and I laughed together, and I felt genuine appreciation for his willingness to provide me with that useful insight.
Don’t focus too much on the outer wrapping.
To use an analogy: the feedback gift came nicely wrapped and was easily accepted. I’m sure you, like me, have received the occasional feedback gift that is poorly wrapped. It is difficult to receive, as valuable as it may be, because there is so much ugly packaging to be discarded! The goal is to throw away the bad wrapping and possibly even the less useful portions of the gift itself. Find the precious gem that was included and reap its benefit. It may be hard to find, but it’s usually worth digging for. Leave the rest of the package behind as quickly as possible and add the gem to the treasures that make you a better person.
Written by: Sandy Tush, Milestone Leadership Partner