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Feedback is a Gift

By Mary Miscisin, M.S.

e have all experienced a time in our lives when we did not like the way someone delivered a message to us or did not think the feedback given was valid. It could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we simply did not like the person giving the feedback because of prior experiences with them. Maybe we do like the person but we attached a meaning to their words, body language or message and therefore got our feeling hurt.

At times we may not recognize our own behaviors or characteristics and may be unaware of how they affect others. Sometimes we do recognize our behaviors yet we frame them differently than others, therefore what might be considered a positive attribute by one person, could be viewed as a negative one by another.

So why pay attention at all?

When you receive some feedback and get the urge to reject it, PAUSE and remember that feedback is a gift. We just may not recognize it, at first. It may not be packaged in the most attractive way. In fact it may not even seem like a gift at all. But it is. Remember the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover?” this is also true with feedback. One thing for sure about feedback is the more open you are to receiving it, the greater the potential for discovering the treasure.

The following are ways to shift your mindset so that you can benefit from the feedback you receive.

Describe the Feedback Offered

Specifically what was the feedback? Just the facts, not including your interpretations. Eliminate your “stuff” from the equation for now, such as, you didn’t like their tone of voice, they didn’t make eye contact, you got feedback you didn’t expect, felt unappreciated, got your feelings hurt or felt picked on. This is all your “stuff.” Next, dig past their “stuff.” Their jealousy, judgment, past baggage, anger, resentment, jumping to conclusions, sarcasm, fear… Think of only the feedback—pure and simple.


Notice Your Immediate Reaction

One person’s immediate reaction could be, “Who the heck are you to judge how much perfume I wear? It’s none of your business!”
Pause and ask yourself, “What meaning have I linked to this?”

The comment could have been interpreted as meaning that the other person was cruel, self-righteous, and picking on them.

What Else Could It Mean?

Ask yourself the question: “What was their intended good?” Keeping in mind that feedback is a gift and the reason a person offers it is to help improve something, find a positive reason for the feedback. Now is the time to make interpretations—positive ones.

Example of positive interpretation:
The woman is concerned about her health. She has allergies. Her daughter has asthma that is triggered by perfume. Others have commented about your perfume and she is the only one brave enough to say something because she cares about you and knows you would not like people making fun of you behind your back.

Clarify—Are Your Definitions the Same?

Find out whether you are actually referring to the same thing. Can you remember a time when you were arguing over something and somewhere along the line you discovered that you had in mind something totally different than the other person and were arguing over two different things? I know it has happened to me. Clarify to make sure.


People are often relieved when you respond by wanting to know more instead the more open you are to receiving it, the greater the potential for discovering the treasure.of immediately rejecting their comments. Many times this verification clears up any misunderstanding and permits information to be exchanged more freely.

Ask Yourself — “How Can I use This?”

Once you have created some alternative meanings and verified specifics, determine how you can possibly use the information. Brainstorm options. Using the perfume example, perhaps you could survey a few others about whether they think you wear too much. A real estate agent friend of mine found out that he was actually losing clients—they did not like to ride in the car with him because they were bothered by his heavy cologne. They really liked him and found him friendly and nice but avoided him nonetheless because of the cologne. He had some choice about what to do with this information.

Choose an Option and Use It.

After surveying his friends and co-workers and being honestly open to hearing their feedback, he cut down on his use of cologne. Since he has done so, his sales have increased and people give him hugs (which he likes) much more often. He is very happy with the results.

The amazing thing about finding the nugget in the feedback you receive is how much you can grow and benefit from using it.

Remember that many people have a hard time giving feedback because they are afraid that the person will interpret it wrong. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a close-minded, suspicious individual that behaves as a victim and misconstrues helpful information as negative. Instead choose to stay open-minded, give the benefit of the doubt and use the gifts you are given. Remember…

To find out more about Mary Miscisin, check out her Website at www.PositivelyMary.com


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