So I’ve previously talked about how you could prepare to have a difficult conversation / give difficult feedback to someone.
But what, if despite your preparation, that conversation does not go to plan and you end up receiving difficult feedback of your own? Alternatively, you might find yourself on the receiving end of some difficult feedback about you, your behaviour, choices, ability (delete as appropriate) that you simply weren’t expecting.
Recently I’ve been in a situation where I have had some difficult ‘feedback’ from someone close to me and I thought I would share what I’ve learnt…
Don’t take it personally
Receiving difficult feedback is tough – it can feel very personal and let’s face it – when something feels personal the natural reaction can be to defend ourselves and even go on the offensive with the other person.
The feedback I received felt very personal – my immediate reaction was to defend myself by pointing out all the similar things the other person did. Where did that end up? In a really ridiculous conversation where both people were making each other very unhappy.
You can also simply focus on the problem being the other person’s and not take anything from the conversation or tell yourself that their opinion / viewpoint is wrong and ignore the situation.
My first piece of advice is not to do this. Instead – remove yourself from the conversation – nicely, of course (don’t just storm out). Give yourself some space to reflect on the conversation and that usually isn’t best done with the person who gave you the feedback in the first place.
What can you really learn from the feedback?
It took me three days before I could go back and talk to the person who gave me my feedback. That was three days before I didn’t take it personally.
During that time, when I wasn’t annoyed and upset, I was able to see that in amongst the badly delivered feedback there were some points I could work on and improve. I didn’t like the fact that they existed, but nevertheless, I had to admit that they did and they were my responsibility.
Talk to people…
I didn’t come to that conclusion on my own. My thoughts were generally filled with blame for the other person and in the end, I knew I needed to talk to a couple of people to get some objective views of the situation. I didn’t choose people who would tell me what I wanted to hear – the interesting thing was that I heard some of the same feedback from these people – it just didn’t annoy me so much coming from them!
Make sure you resolve the conversation
It’s tempting not to revisit the conversation – after all, you could end up in the same place. But in my experience, this doesn’t give anyone closure.
I went back to the person and explained that I