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Embracing a Forward-Looking Attitude: How to Take Feedback in Stride

As humans, we are wired to seek validation and approval from others. We learn to crave positive feedback and dread criticism from an early age. However, feedback is essential for growth and development in our personal and professional lives. It can help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, improve our performance, and achieve our goals.

In this article, we will explore the different types of feedback, common reactions to feedback, and how to develop a forward-looking attitude that can help you take feedback in stride.

Why taking feedback is essential

Without feedback, we may not be aware of our blind spots or areas for improvement. Feedback can help us identify our strengths and weaknesses to give us a roadmap for improvement. It can also help us build stronger relationships with others, showing that we are open to learning and growing.

However, feedback can be challenging to receive, mainly if it is negative or given with anger. It can be hard to hear that we are not meeting expectations or have made a mistake. But it's important to remember that feedback should not be a personal attack. It is simply information that can help us improve our performance and grow.

The different types of feedback

There are two main types of feedback: criticism and constructive feedback. Criticism is negative feedback focused on what went wrong without offering suggestions for improvement. It can be harsh and unhelpful, often leaving the recipient feeling demotivated and defensive.

On the other hand, constructive feedback focuses on identifying areas for improvement and providing specific suggestions for improvement. It is delivered in a supportive and non-judgmental way and is intended to help the recipient grow and develop.

Common reactions to feedback

Receiving feedback, mainly if it is negative, can be difficult. Many people react defensively or dismissively, making it challenging to converse about the input.

Some common reactions to feedback include:

  • Denial: "That's not true; I didn't do that!"

  • Defensiveness: "I had to do it that way because…."

  • Dismissiveness: "That's just one person's opinion."

  • Divisiveness: "It's not my fault; I didn't have the needed resources."

These reactions are natural but can get in the way of constructively receiving feedback for improvement. Instead, it's crucial to approach negative input with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

The benefits of a forward-looking attitude

A forward-looking attitude is focused on growth and development. It is characterized by a willingness to learn, a desire to improve, and a positive outlook on feedback.

A forward-looking attitude can have many benefits, including:

  • A forward-looking attitude can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and be open to feedback that can help you improve.

  • A forward-looking attitude can help you build stronger relationships with others, showing you are open to learning and growing.

  • Being open to feedback and willing to learn can improve your performance and help you achieve your goals.

How to develop a forward-looking attitude

Developing a forward-looking attitude takes time and effort but is worth it in the long run.

Some strategies for creating a forward-looking perspective include:

  • Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, focus on what you can do to improve in the future.

  • Approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

  • Take time to reflect on your performance and identify areas for improvement.

  • Set achievable goals for yourself, and track your progress.

  • Take time to celebrate your successes, no matter how small.

Techniques for receiving feedback constructively

Receiving feedback constructively is a skill that can be developed with practice.

Some techniques for receiving feedback constructively include:

  • Listen carefully to the feedback without interrupting or becoming defensive.

  • Clarify any unclear points, and ask for specific examples.

  • Remember that feedback is about your performance, not your worth.

  • Write down the feedback, and review it later to identify areas for improvement.

  • Thank them for their feedback, and let them know you appreciate their willingness to help you improve.

The importance of applying feedback

Receiving feedback is just the first step. To truly benefit from feedback, applying it to your performance is essential. This means taking concrete steps to improve based on the feedback you received.

Some strategies for using feedback include:

  • Identify specific steps to improve your performance and create a plan to implement them.

  • Ask for help or guidance from others if needed.

  • Track your progress towards your goals, and adjust your plan as needed.

  • Take time to celebrate your successes and use them as motivation to continue improving.

The Role of feedback in personal and professional growth

Whether you are a manager giving feedback to employees or an individual seeking to improve your performance, the strategies outlined in this article can help you navigate the tricky waters of feedback with confidence and grace. If you're a manager wanting to terminate an employee without offering feedback, you're failing that employee. If you're an employee who doesn't want to hear feedback or doesn't take it to heart, you're failing your employer and yourself. Remember, you should want to give and receive feedback and act on it. Opening that channel of communication leads to clarity and success. Embrace it, and watch yourself grow.


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