How to Internalize Feedback Without Taking It Personally

By Suraiya Sarwar

When I was a younger student, I was always self-conscious about getting feedback on papers that I’d written. Whenever this feedback was loaded with implications that I should fix, or even reconstruct a whole paper, I was often discourage from even wanting to attempt working on it again.

Whether it’s your coach telling you that you need to work on a certain move, or your teacher giving your paper back with red commentary all over it; feedback is something that all of us have been given. The word “feedback” tends to often get misconstrued in a negative light, rendering it essentially criticism.

As such, receiving feedback puts many of us on the defensive, leading it to be useless after that point. No one likes being told that they are doing something wrong and should be doing it another way; however, a majority of the time feedback is often given for constructive use, so here are some tips to properly utilize given feedback to your advantage.

  • Perspective: If you change your perspective on feedback, thinking of it as an opportunity to better yourself, this can automatically change your attitude. And it’s true, once you realize that it’s an opportunity, you can use it to further any goals for whatever purpose the feedback is for.
  • Listen: When the person is sharing feedback, make sure to listen closely and focus on understanding what she is saying before questioning every piece of their advice. Be understanding of the other person as well, as she may sometimes not express their ideas in the best way.
  • Deconstruct: Going off of what was previously said, it’s important to discuss and clarify things after listening to them. Ask questions in order to get full clarity and try to reach a compromise you both think is best. Sometimes, certain parts of the feedback offered might not be as much of a priority to you as it is to the person giving feedback, so it’s important to understand where she is coming from and which perspective she’s bringing to the table.
  • Reflect: After this is all said and done, try to make an effort to reflect back on what was said. What did you gain and learn from this? Do you believe the feedback (or certain parts of it) is valid? The most important thing to reflect back on possibly is how to use this feedback to further your own ambitions or skills.

Being able to handle feedback well and channeling it for personal growth is a great skill to carry with you for the rest of your life. With negative feedback being an inevitable part of life, it’s important to sometimes just let it go and try not to take it personally.

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