Thought today

How to not take things personally.

I was on a course recently and one of the activities we were to undertake was a ten minute Micro-Teach at the end of which we were to give feedback of the experience to the person who gave the Micro-Teach. We were discussing how we would give feedback and the group consensus was that it ought to be constructive and so helpful to the person receiving the feedback so they can learn and/or develop their skills. We also said that no one is to take anything that is said personally.

All well and good. However…,

one of my fellow students said: “Yes, but how do we not take what is said personally? How do we do that?” This got me thinking about how I learnt to receive and indeed give feedback and whether there were people out there in the big wide world struggling to understand how to approach this task. So I thought I’d share my snip-bits of wisdom in this department which you can find below. Essentially I’ve given some pointers that I used to support myself and my learning. I hope you find this of interest and/or helpful.

So, how not to take feedback/things said to us, personally

  1. Remember what is said is not all about you  even if it is specifically attached to you by the speaker. (See point 2).

  2. Remember what is said is an opinion based hopefully on some facts although mixed with an individuals own perspective which stems from their life experiences and knowledge at the time (not yours)

  3. Remember what is said, no matter how much it is stated as if it is an absolute, is not absolute – life is fluid, so too are we humans. We are constantly evolving through our experiences.

  4. Remember you do not have to agree with what is said, simply accept what is said for what it is: an invitation to consider what is being said. (No matter how authoritarian the person speaking may be).

  5. Remember that neither you or the other person has to be ‘right’ overall. We really can all coexist here on Earth together!

  6. Remember your value and worth as a human being is not being defined, or at least if it is constructive and so helpful feedback, it isn’t.

  7. Remember to allow yourself time to process and indeed reflect on what has been communicated to you.

  8. Remember you do not have to respond to the points raised, although it is always nice (or at least I think it is) if we acknowledge what is communicated to us, otherwise the other person may not feel heard and quite possibly ignored. I don’t know about you but I don’t appreciate that, so acknowledge that you’ve heard the other person, maybe even say (if it is true for you) “Right now I don’t see it but I hear what you’re saying” or even simply “I’ll think about it, thanks.” Give you and the other person/people room to breathe.

I admit I have come from a place where I saw things in what is customarily referred to as black and white thinking and I did personalise things. Whilst I found my way out of this a while ago and I now have a choice of going from black and white thinking to seeing the abundance of colour there is in our world, I did actually forget how I learnt to do this. Hence my writing this blog after reflecting on this and recalling a few things.

If you are new to giving and receiving feedback to others I hope this blog has been helpful to you. If you are anything like me, you may need to make the above distinctions to yourself (in the privacy of your own mind) frequently. However, in time this will become second nature to you and you may only need to remind yourself every now and then. Let’s face it, we are only human, we too need tuning up every now and then just like a car, a musical instrument…you catch my drift, yes?

One other thing that has been of assistance to me in both giving and receiving feedback is compassion. Speak from your heart. Listen to others through your heart.

Well, I’ll bid you adieu for now, good luck on your ventures and remember, giving and receiving feedback can be fun!

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