Have you ever needed a boost to your ego after getting feedback?

Ego– noun; A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. ‘He needed a boost to his ego.’ (Oxford Living Dictionary)

I remember being introduced to the first check mark of my life in first grade. My teacher, Mrs. Perry, who wasn’t much taller than her 6-year old students called me up to her desk and explained what that red check mark meant. I don’t remember but it was probably something about not following the directions… not my strength. It was not the happy face feedback I loved.

Whether 6 or 106 years old, feedback can be tough to take and lots of times tough to find! Did you know that CEOs are often hurting to find someone who will give them some honest feedback? (And yes it can be tough to give… that’s a topic for another article.)

People have been known to cry, swear, yell and/or close themselves off in their office for days after getting feedback from a boss, mentor, editor, accountability partner and friends (including partners and spouses).

Yet, one research study (Zenger and Folkman) shows that 92% of the respondents attribute corrective feedback, (suggestions for improvement, explorations of new and better ways to do things or pointing out something that was done in a less than optimal way,) when given constructively, as doing more to improve their performance than positive feedback.

Our healthy ego gives us the strength to handle tough feedback and keeps us from being consumed with negativity. We can avoid personalizing and bruising while still being able to find constructive ideas from others.

In this article…

You’ll get three ways your healthy ego can help you navigate your feedback experience so you can take the BEST learning and MOVE FORWARD with a powerful boost to your personal development.

Check these out…

1—Take an honest look at yourself—are you getting defensive and limiting real growth?

It’s true. Even people who say they want straight-up, direct, no-holding-back feedback and get it constructively respond defensively.

Check out these typical defensive reactions to feedback. Do you see yourself?

You can think about feedback you’ve gotten through performance evaluations (360-Degree, annual reviews, team debriefing, classwork, mentoring,  literary agent/peer reviews, any skill-based coaching as well as personal relationship conversations between partners, spouses or family/friends).

Defensive Behavior Check-Up

Give yourself a check mark for each “yep I’ve done that at least once.”

–1. You immediately justify and explain why the feedback is wrong, typically starting with Yes, but…

–2. You say (or think), That feedback giver will never get it therefore it really doesn’t count. Give yourself a check even if you go back and consider the advice given.

–3. Others say to you, Wow, you’re defensive!

–4. You get angry at the feedback individual/group. Give yourself a million checks if you fire back an angry (cynical, sarcastic) comment, email, text or phone call. If you’ve sincerely apologized in some way or another take time to forgive yourself.

–5. If you’ve ever thought about resigning your position and/or dropping out of a feedback partnership/ group due to your discomfort with feedback, give yourself 2 checks. If you’ve resigned or dropped out impulsively because of the feedback, go ahead and give yourself a million checks. If you’ve returned, or said goodbye with graciousness, subtract 999,997 checks.

–6. You make a big deal about how awful you feel about the feedback so that the individual reminds you that hey, you don’t need to accept my feedback, give yourself 500,000 checks… if the feedback individual tells you s/he was wrong because of your rant, give yourself 900,000 checks… (even if you apologize later… although kudos for owning your stuff!)

–7. You don’t take any advice from the feedback offered; just smile or limply say, okay. You know you’re being dismissing.

–8. You only respond to feedback that is building on making something good better. You avoid considering feedback which is targeting things that aren’t working.

–9. Your feedback group/individual used to give you some feedback that was hard to take, but now it’s only positive, “nice”, a perfunctory courtesy.

–10. Give yourself a happy face if you’ve been honest with your answers.

Of course we all get defensive. You put a lot of your heart, soul, time and energy into your work. If you’ve checked several, congratulations you’re human!

If there’s a lot of checks, then slow down and work on the deeper challenge so you can feel better about yourself. Often it’s a matter of using your self-awareness and choosing to be open and learn rather than closed, defensive and protective.

Check out the rest of this article…

2. Before receiving feedback, find your psychological safety.

Here’s an interesting sidebar. Often (not always) it’s NOT the content of what is being said that stirs up your defenses. So pause… ask yourself– how often do you realize that what you were questioning prior to getting the feedback is the very thing the feedback references?

It’s feeling “unsafe” that creates the psychological pain.

When you feel psychologically safe, you can hear most anything. I’m not suggesting you should feel like skipping through the tulips; however a healthy tolerance and willingness to be momentarily uncomfortable is needed to benefit from corrective feedback.

Remember— the ultimate responsibility for making you feel safe and worthwhile falls on you.

Here’s a quick psychological safety strategy to try…

If you accept that we all have an inner adult, child and critic who are always present, THEN call upon the inner adult (who is emotionally mature, respects other viewpoints and takes responsibility) to take the lead, listen and respond to any feedback.

Sometimes that means you need to take a moment and find your inner adult. Any resistance? Breathe and invite the adult within to surface. S/he is there.

Sometimes our inner child (easily hurt, playful, vulnerable) and critic (fault-finding, sarcastic, angry) want to hang around and resist leaving. They need to be tucked away so your adult has the floor.

Here’s are some more ways psychological safety can be created…

  • Review your accomplishments and strengths. Make a list if affirmations: I am willing to learn. I love a good challenge. It’s really okay if I’m surprised at what is said… I will tackle the challenge.
  • It’s okay to let people know you’re not ready for feedback or that you need only positive, encouraging feedback for now. That’s responsible.
  • Imagine your biggest support is with you. For example, I often put my husband in my pocket (although he can be a bit rowdy) or I sense my mother standing behind me.
  • Truly, people giving feedback are not the “enemy.” Most of the time, they are doing what you’ve asked… and doing it to their best ability. Appreciation for their time and consideration is warranted.

In short, be your own SAFETY inspector. Make sure your psychological safety strategies are strong with fully charged batteries.

3. Be curious rather than indifferent or presumptuous.

Now, let that child within help you explore. Learning is fun. Learning about yourself and others is a tremendous gift. Be curious and grateful.

Ask questions for clarification. Accept the response you get. Give yourself time to digest the information rather than evaluate it immediately.

And yes, the ultimate decision to use the feedback is yours.

Here’s your takeaway…

Navigate your ego and move towards the healthy ego strengths of responding to feedback with less defensiveness, psychological safety readiness and having fun being curious.

So tell me please… what’s your favorite way to learn through feedback?

I’m able and willing to spend some time with you so you can find some quick and helpful next steps to a work challenge.

Call me today and let’s schedule some time together.