Feedback is an essential part of the corporate world. Every business book, seminar, college lecture, and assessment tool underlies its importance. Employees (myself included) often shudder at the mere thought of having to face a superior and have your weaknesses laid out on a table. Some bosses are gracious, making sure feedback stays between you and them, while other bosses are ruthless, pointing it out in front of other employees as a form of tough love.
Dealing with feedback, no matter how gracious we are in accepting them, is never an easy task. When we were younger, feedback almost always felt personal. It always felt like an attack, especially from the boss you don’t really get along with. I found myself crying after my first assessment and thinking, “This is it, I will never be who I’ve always wanted to be.”
(Forgive my drama queen moments; I was raised in the era of Lizzie McGuire and Lindsay Lohan).
However, I have come to realize that bad feedback, even the most hurtful; do not have to be the end of the line for anyone. In fact, with the right amount of fair feedback, it becomes this wonderful thing with which we can build our better selves upon. There are so many calm, cool, focused, and collected people out there who can bravely look feedback in the eye and use it to their advantage, even if they’re bleeding while doing so.
Some of us who have excelled in the academe all our lives find it difficult to accept our weaknesses and faults, simply because we’ve based our worth on points and systems. But life, in as much as I detest admitting it, is never just black and white–there are many greys in between.
Work life can be quite exciting, especially if you get one “great job” after another. However, in those moments where all you get are red marks and “try again,” where do you find the fuel to move forward?
It’s quite easy: focus on the work, find ways to improve how to do your job, and realize that the end goal is to do what you are paid to do, no more, no less. As an emotional and extremely passionate human being, this has been quite difficult for a time. However, when you love something, you find ways to make it work. You sacrifice, find ways to improve yourself, and become better simply because you’re inspired to do so.
The other flipside of feedback is also this: it’s merely an opinion of someone else, not a fact. Learn to sift through what you heard and look at it objectively: What’s the truth, what do I know myself to be, and can I use this to improve myself? If feedback was merely used to belittle your beliefs and your values with no endpoint of improving anything in your life, toss it.
Truth is, everyone has an opinion from the way you dress to what you believe in. We just have to be kinder to ourselves and sharper in listening to what is good for us and what isn’t. Once you learn to find that balance, feedback will no longer be a word you fear, but instead a tool you use to ultimately mold you to the person you dream of being.