How to Take Feedback and Criticism

The task of receiving negative feedback well is hard for most people. It’s especially difficult for dysregulated eaters who often strive to be perfect in order to get validation. Although it’s a lovely fantasy to live in a world in which everyone approves of whatever you do, it’s not reality. Better to learn how to handle criticism.

Hence, some tips from “How to Be Resilient in the Face of Harsh Criticism” by Joseph Grenny (Harvard Business Review, 6/17/19, https://hbr.org/2019/06/how-to-be-resilient-in-the-face-of-harsh criticism?utm_source=pocket-newtab, accessed 6/19/19). Grenny explains that receiving negative feedback (especially unexpectedly), “threatens two of our most fundamental psychological needs: safety (perceived physical, social, or material security) and worth (a sense of self-respect, self-regard, or self-confidence). Such threats to self are particularly upsetting if you’ve experienced them in excess in childhood as many dysregulated eaters have. If Mom or Dad (or anyone in your youth) regularly violated your sense of safety and denigrated your self-worth, you’ll be more likely to excessively emotionally dysregulated by negative comments as an adult. 

Truth is, we don’t really want to live without criticism and feedback because we need it to live well. Feedback may be about anything from how not to burn the toast to picking better dates or mates to stop annoying habits. Sometimes we’re doing things wrong or simply could do them better. To thrive, this is vital information to have. 

So, rather than be affronted by negative words tossed in your direction, you’ll do better considering how criticism may be useful and feeling cheerier about receiving it. Of course, it’s better when negative feedback is packaged in gentle, tactful words and meant kindly. But, even when it stings, if it’s useful, it’s worth mulling over.

Gerry suggests following the acronym CURE “to build resilience in the face of criticism.”

  1. Collect yourself: Slow the breath. Notice, name and stay with primary feelings to avoid secondary ones of anger or defensiveness. Remind yourself that you’re safe.
  2. Understand. Come from a position of curiosity rather than blocking out criticism. Open up. Detach emotionally from what’s being said so that you can really listen.
  3. Recover. Respond neutrally to criticism and request time to reflect on what was said. Think of yourself as recovering from upset and give yourself time to do it. 
  4. Engage. Put aside defensiveness and with an open heart examine what was said to you. Search for the truth. When you’ve found it, get back to the feedback-giver to offer your viewpoint on what did and didn’t seem truthful about what was said.

Best,

Karen

 

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