Negative feedback begins at a very early age, basically from the point of childhood, when our parents either would verbally give us feedback to tell us various things such as, “Stop doing that!” or “Would you please stop hitting your sister!”, etc. Or even do the absolutely horrible physical tactic of spanking us! Insert sarcasm! Guaranteed I deserved every swat and needed more! The next level of negative feedback came from our teachers and coaches in the classroom, on the field, or on the court.
As time goes on, and we become older, the negative feedback slows or even becomes non-existent. Some of it is we aren’t in standard learning situations, such as the classroom or a sport, but it also occurs because anyone giving negative feedback, which really means help in getting better, becomes leary of the response they may get from the person they are giving the “help” to. Negative feedback, or help in getting better as I prefer, causes us to respond in two very basic ways, we either take the information and respond, learn, and work to get better, or #2, we don’t listen to the negative yet helpful feedback and fail to respond, learn, and work to get better.
So the challenge for today is simple. We must get to the point in which we crave negative feedback to help us get better as people. It isn’t easy, and can even be humiliating. But, the key, is being humble, willing to listen, have an open mind and heart, and digest the information told to us. The challenge is, as a child, we have no choice and we have to listen. And the older we get, the more our brain tells us, “It’s your choice, you don’t have to listen or do that.” And your brain is right. But keep in mind, the people that are willing to listen, respond, learn, and work to get better will always achieve higher levels of success at home, work, relationships, marriage, and parenting, than those to headstrong and arrogant to do those things.
Setting the tone in our brain to crave negative feedback takes extreme discipline because anytime the situation arises that someone wants to tell us we are wrong or did something wrong, or we failed, we often become very defensive. That is the natural human response. We have all been there and can think of many of those exact situations. But we must remember, most people verbalizing those things to us are only trying to help us get better, not just point out the negatives. The angle they took to convey it, or the way it was verbalized may have been poor or incorrect, but we must always work to see through the clutter of the words and pick out the valuable pieces of information designed to help us get better. So the next time you feel the negative feedback coming, set the tone in your brain to not get defensive, but to sit, listen, learn, and work to get better, regardless of the person delivering the message or the way or the words used to deliver the message.
Who do you want to be, the person utilizing negative feedback in constant pursuit of getting a little better each day, or the person utilizing the negative feedback to be defensive, argumentative, believe they are wrong and you are right, or even combative with no real honest humble desire to get a little better each day? It’s up to you, it’s your CHOICE!