Read Proverbs 19:20
Getting feedback from others is complicated. I’m not sure any of us naturally enjoys it, though you can learn to love it.
Feedback, generally, has two features – highlighting the positive and, second, identifying what needs work and growth. It’s the second part that’s really hard to accept. Since our verse seems to infer the type of feedback that identifies our weakness and admonishes growth, let’s talk about that.
Feedback, especially unsolicited, tends to sting. It gnaws at our pride and our perception of ourselves. If we live with an inflated view of ourselves, we can scoff at it, discredit the messenger or get angry. If we are insecure and timid, feedback seems to confirm what we despise about ourselves. Neither of these reactions are helpful. Instead . . .
When feedback stings, befriend it.
While not all feedback is equal, it’s always an invitation to grow. Keep this in mind when you feel the sting:
- Feedback leads to wisdom.
If the giver of the feedback sincerely has your best in mind, you can trust it. They may spot something that isn’t fully informed or they may know from their own experience that there are consequences up ahead. At the very least, if you’re tempted to reject their words, practice pausing to listen and consider. Wise people examine all the data, so consider the advice and wisdom someone is introducing to you!
- Graciously receiving feedback is endearing.
It might be hard to listen to someone’s feedback when it stings, but admitting you may be wrong and seeing the opportunity to grow is often one of the most endearing qualities. People are drawn to this characteristic. This is probably at least, in part, why wise people tend to find other wise people. Like attracts like. Proverbs 15:31 says, “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” On the other hand, people who aren’t teachable are harder to befriend because they aren’t gracious listeners.,
- It makes you more self-aware.
Self-aware people know their weaknesses as well as their strengths. They’ve gained this awareness by listening to others tell them what they can’t readily see at first – their blind spots. When you know your weaknesses, you can work on them. When you know your strengths, you can finesse and perfect them. All in all, you get wise!
So now what? Next time you receive feedback – the kind that stings – try responding in these ways:
- Send signals that you like, even if it stings. Every wise person I know appreciates feedback and you can be at any stage of your growth to assume the same posture. It will endear you to others.
- Ask for feedback before it’s offered. This one’s simple. Feedback hurts (a little) less when you ask for it than when someone feels they must give it unsolicited. This way, at least, you won’t be caught on your heels!
- Reframe “the sting” by thanking God that He’s growing your wisdom. The Bible says that the Lord’s discipline is evidence of His love for us (Proverbs 3:12). He cares for you. He desires your best and knows a little correction and feedback is growing you into who He’s destined you to be.
When feedback stings, don’t fight it. Befriend it.