I was watching a US programme long ago ‘Chopped’ where four up and coming chefs compete in three rounds (a three course meal) to win the final prize of $10,000; after each course, one chef is eliminated and the rest move up to the next course until the last chef standing wins. In this particular episode, one of the chefs – if I may say so – was unnecessarily loud, distracting and messy. The other contestants murmured about it, the judges were amazed at such odious behaviour, but nobody was saying anything to her. Fortunately for her, she literally managed to scale through the first two courses, and just before the final course, one of the judges could not help themselves anymore and gave her a good piece of his mind (blunt and honest positive feedback!).
She was absolutely livid about getting the feedback, and started to walk out on the show, but changed her mind to complete the final round during which she positively channelled all her energy. She talked less, was much neater, and paid more attention to what she was doing. Guess what, she was the absolute best in that round, however, because the other chef had done better in the first two rounds, he won. Imagine if she had received that criticism much earlier? She openly admitted that she wished she had been more aware and channelled her energy positively in the earlier rounds.
While at high school, I had no problem when teachers marked my assignments with a red pen and scribbled feedback all over it; on the other hand, I knew others who hated it. My philosophy was that the more feedback I received, the better my chances of performing better next time. I don’t believe in despising feedback, instead, we should encourage it. Feedback helps us identify additional opportunities for improvement and growth. Also, whether the delivery of feedback comes in a pleasant or not so pleasant manner, we should learn to make sense of what is valuable and true, and discard what is just plain toxic. Yes, there is feedback that can be toxic. However, we need to be careful to not throw the baby out with the bath water, and lose gems of wisdom that have the ability to elevate us to greater heights.
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell discusses ‘The Law of Pain’, and how what we do with bad experiences can define who become. In this situation, how we deal with criticism – good or bad – will determine our ability to grow and reach our potential.
One of the things that can stop us from taking criticism is pride. Without realising it, there is sometimes that unknowing pride in us waiting to jump out and rebel when we hear something negative. However, with humility we can be more open to feedback, and not take it too hard.
Whether as a leader, colleague, friend, parent, or sibling, we should also hold ourselves accountable and have the boldness to give truthful feedback, as well as be mindful to give it in the most respectful and/or loving manner.
How do you deal with negative feedback? How do you give negative feedback to your team, colleagues and others? Please share your tips and experience below.