“I don’t care what they think, am fine” He said. “Does it affect you in any way?” I asked “I don’t really care; I will just let be” He said. This was a conversation in a self-awareness coaching session. The client had been referred by the boss as part of his performance improvement coaching. Part of increasing your self-awareness is taking feedback from other people on both your areas of strengths and areas of weakness. Taking feedback is however not as easy as it sounds.

As human beings negative feedback feels like an attack on who we are and what we are capable of. To some, it might even sound like rejection. Some people deal with it by denial like my client did while others rationalize the issue and defend themselves. However, our ability to take good and bad feedback demonstrates our level of emotional intelligence. Our ability to take feedback and work on it also feeds into our growth.

Feedback can also help us identify strengths that we might have overlooked or we are totally unaware of. Days later my client acknowledged that he had actually missed out on opportunities socially and professionally because of ignoring feedback.

“Even though most people believe they are self-aware, only 10-15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria and the more power one holds, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills and abilities.” Harvard Business review. We need to intentionally develop our self-awareness and work on our growth (work on weaknesses and leverage on strengths);

  1. Use personality tests to understand your personality traits;

Personality Test are not perfect, but they do help you to reflect on your attitude, behaviors, characteristics and what drives your decision making and so become more self-aware.

  1. Ask someone else;

Identify people you know and feel you can trust and ask them to give you feedback on your personality, habits, needs and values.

  1. Listen to feedback without justifying;

If you are busy defending yourself, you will probably miss out on what the person is trying to tell you. Listen to what you need to hear not what you want to hear.

  1. Be open to change;

Be actively interested on improving yourself. It takes sustained effort and focus, and you won’t achieve it unless you regularly check in and re-focus your efforts.

  1. Identify personal habits that are holding you back;

Define your bad habits. You do not even need to change them initially. Just train yourself to notice them and then you can start to change direction.

If you continuously struggle to take or ask for negative feedback/criticism, work on your mindset;

  1. Remind yourself that you have nothing to lose by knowing the truth.
  2. Recognize that while we mostly prefer compliments, accurate criticism is more valuable.
  3. Embrace your mistakes, it’s part of growth; Do not feel bad about your mistake or those of others.
  4. Worry more about achieving your goals than just looking good.
  5. Embrace tough love.
  6. Remember to reflect when you get feedback; objectively analyze the feedback, ask for a second opinion if you need to.

Remember if a number of different believable people say you are doing something wrong and you are the only one who does not see it that way, assume you are preferable biased; Reflect and talk to an objective person about it.

We all need people who will give us feedback, it however takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it because good feedback is the key to improvement

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