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Feedback. That’s the magic word!
Let’s start by putting this out there: anything that you will do in your life will bring about a result/reaction of sorts. And your career and overall personal development depend on it.
Learning to receive criticism (unfair or not) with an open and calm mind is a game-changer! It stands to greatly improve your schoolwork, professional duties and help you nurture rich and strong relationships.
Like the air, feedback lives all around us
Feedback is not limited to the pointers directed to you by other people. It also includes the world ‘roughing you up’ as soon as you begin your pursuit of happiness.
Imagine yourself as a keen student doing your final year in high school. You are one of the sharpest minds at the school, in your community and always have been, right from your first class in Grade 8.
As expected, you breeze through matric examinations with four distinctions. At the beginning of the following year, private companies and government departments line up to offer academic funding. You eventually make a decision on which organization to sign with.
However, no one in your circle had the foresight to prepare you for a new environment – university. After all, we can’t focus on the student without acknowledging their environment. To begin with, the study material differs from the kind that you know from your high school career. As a result, failure of a few subjects in the first and second semesters knocks off your self-confidence. At the same time, the bursary agreement requires good grades in order to stay active.
You realize a few years later (after great struggles, an involuntary gap year, almost giving up everything and now with a new sponsor) that a bridging-course to prepare your mind for a new academic environment was necessary.
However (and this is the point of the scenario), the struggles and failures that you experience along the way serve as a kind of feedback loop that you can use to draw lessons and improve.
3 Tips for Handling Feedback Like a Pro
Ask for as much advice as you can
Use the feedback session to gather ideas on how you can change up your approach.
When you ask your teammates for honest feedback, it allows everyone in the room to get comfortable with the conversation. That habit will also show you off as a secure and confident person – the perfect person to study/work with.
Be secure: feedback is not a personal attack
Very few things are as important as learning to clearly separate the criticism directed at your work and the personal feelings that may arise.
Sure, it’s easy to identify personally with the work that you create. But all that does is increase the chances that your feedback sessions will be unpleasant experiences.
Well, there’s another way: confidence. Walk into work review sessions with the idea that they are a chance to look at your work through different eyes.
Switch between different perspectives
In order to process the feedback that you receive with kindness, it’s important that you look at the situation from the eyes of your lecturer, co-worker, spouse, etc. This makes you listen to another person with the intent to understand, instead of defending yourself.
This creates clarity for you. Example: a student might not see clearly the larger consequences of their actions or poor academic performance, and how to resolve those issues, but their lecturer might be able to intervene.
Keep this in mind: people respect and are drawn towards people who never take themselves too seriously. And in the fast-paced digital world that we live and work in, a teachable attitude is as good as having a senior certificate from a top-quality school.