Lessons From My 20s: Listen to Feedback Not Criticism
I wish I had protective gear on sometimes. Feedback hurts.
I know that a variety of people read this. Men, women, people in their 80s and teenagers. Christians and atheists. People with a full spectrum of political views…I don’t know each of you, but I DO know that we ALL have something in common.
We love to hear what we are doing well and what people love about us. We don’t like to hear what we need to improve or what about us offends others.
This past week I have had the opportunity to listen to people point out what I haven’t done well. Awesome. Gotta love those weeks.
I am learning however what to do with that. It hurts, makes me want to get insecure, I start to assume I know what everyone is thinking of me, and I just want to curl up on my bed and watch the West Wing. Personally, it would be a lot easier to get defensive and reject them all. Tell myself people don’t know what they are talking about and they are punks who need to stop being such haters.
That response won’t get me anywhere though. At the same time, I can’t respond to each thing someone wishes were different about me. I can’t please everyone and meet other people’s expectations. So, I differentiate between feedback and criticism.
Criticism is just plain negative. Griping. Almost attacking. The person sharing it is usually someone who doesn’t know me incredibly well. Their feelings and opinions are based on assumption and frustration of ways they feel I did them wrong.
People are always going to disagree with things about me. I don’t need to stress about every person that doesn’t like what I think about God. Or what I choose to do about certain situations. To put it bluntly, criticism isn’t about me, its about them. Its about where they feel insecure, where they are arrogant, where they have wounds from a previous experience, or they simply wish I was a different person…I can’t do anything about those. Sorry.
Feedback hurts too. Sometimes even more because the people it comes from are people that I deeply respect and care for. But feedback is based on wanting me to get better. People who give me feedback value me enough to tell me areas that I need to adjust so that I can improve. Or so that our relationship can get better. Feedback acknowledges that my heart & motives were in the right place, but the execution was off.
Feedback comes from people who believe in me. They are willing to tell me that I led that meeting badly. They love me enough to remind me not to tweet after 11pm because my brain’s filter is already asleep. I have had people say that I sound really selfish, sharp and frustrated when I communicate a certain way. I’m glad they told me because I DO NOT want to be that person. Feedback is reminding me to aim higher.
Criticism: “You aren’t good at loving people. The things you say come off so arrogant.”
Feedback: ” I know your heart is 100% for people. However, you need to look at the way you are communicating it, because it isn’t coming across that way.”
I take the feedback and talk to God about it. Then I change where I need to change. I thank people that give it to me straight because I want to be better than I am right now. I want to be a better wife, mom, leader, follower, and a better disciple of Christ.
I don’t pout. I refuse to let myself feel embarrassed or ashamed. I get humble and ask God to help me grow. I change. And then I let it go. I can’t carry reminders of places I have fumbled. I listen again to how much God loves me no matter what & I get right back in the game.