Negative Feedback and Your Identity: What if it’s true?

There are few things more difficult to hear than negative feedback from your boss or colleagues. This sensitive subject makes us cringe because it threatens our identity. We may associate ourselves as being attentive to detail, a good listener or presenter, so when we hear feedback to the contrary, it causes some insecurity. We may instinctively protect ourselves by becoming defensive or withdrawn. This can take the form of not listening to the party providing feedback, raising your voice, or even worse engaging in an argument.

Do you have a colleague that makes the same mistakes? Imagine telling them that you have noticed they fail to update the dashboard correctly before the monthly team meetings. It’s not so easy giving feedback either is it? Now imagine that they respond positively to your feedback. What would happen to the dashboard next month? I bet they wouldn’t make the same mistake again and the entire team would benefit from the correct information. If we look at receiving and giving feedback as a gift, not only does the organization benefit, but personal performance is also accelerated.

One of the most important traits venture capitalists look for in a founder is being coachable. A person who is able to take advice and understand different points of view is less likely to be blind sighted by adversity. A Virgin blog post by Dave Haynes outlines sought after characteristics at Seedcamp, Europe’s leading early stage investment firm, listening to feedback is number 3 on the list.

The way we respond to feedback and what we do with the information is vital to our career success and personal growth. Receiving and giving feedback is hard, but it gets easier with practice and even easier if you seek it from your professional network.

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