A few brave people in our lives will provide tough feedback that appears to attack the core of who we are. Most times, the feedback will come at a point when we are already feeling pretty low. The reason for the timing isn’t happenstance – it’s because the things we are doing at that moment are the source of the stresses that are causing our own demise. We are affecting others negatively, and they in turn react negatively toward us.
In my life, there are two people in particular who cared enough about me and my success that they were brutally honest with me about how I was coming across to others. Though I didn’t agree with everything they said, it gave me a new perspective on how my communication style could be creating perceptions that were very different than what I thought. During the feedback sessions, they told me of others whom I had hurt, or who had a low perception of me. After licking my wounds, I took the opportunity to meet with those other persons to apologize and talk through the negative perceptions. In most cases (but not all) I was able to clear things up, enabling the relationships to move forward.
As those brave souls were talking and providing feedback, I wrote things down. To this day, I refer to my notes to ensure I’m not falling back into old habits. If I had not acknowledged the issues and my failings, the distrust would have continued and my future actions would just have continued to reinforce the negative story.
(continuing thoughts from a former co-worker Kathryn to a family member)
Another good article on this subject is from Careerealism titled When to Accept (or Reject) Critical Feedback
I have to admit, there is some feedback I received ages ago and took to heart. I realized years later that the person in question felt threatened by me and was looking for ways to tear me down and fill me with self-doubt. I’m still paying for believing him instead of the people who told me I was in a toxic situation.