To give someone feedback is essentially to give them a response but specifically about them or about something associated with them (such as their opinion or their ideas or their appearance or their behaviors or their performance or something they created etc).
When the feedback that someone gives us is positive, it feels good. Because it feels good, we feel like it is for our benefit and we feel like someone is an ally to us. But often, when the feedback that we receive is negative, we feel the opposite. It triggers things like feelings of shame, low self-esteem, frustration, not being understood and helplessness. It causes a release of stress-inducing hormones in your body that raises your level of threat awareness and in fact causes a momentary loss of executive functioning in your brain. Because it does all of this, we feel like it isn’t for our benefit and we tend to feel like the person giving us the negative feedback is an adversary.
Negative feedback can be something that is against your best interests. Whether something is in your best interests or not often boils down to the conscious and or subconscious intention that someone has for giving it to you. For example, a person might have the intention of giving you negative feedback about something that you created because they are threatened by your perceived superiority and are looking to tear you down so they can stop feeling inferior. Or a person might give you negative feedback because they fear that if you feel good about yourself you will leave them. Or a person may give you negative feedback because it puts them on top in a power game. Or a person might give you negative feedback because they can get a better deal if you devalue yourself or something you created. This list goes on and on. It’s pretty easy to see how negative feedback can be a detriment to you in these scenarios.
Even a positive intention can lead to negative results when it comes to negative feedback. For example, a parent may think that telling their child that the piano piece they played was below average would help them to put more focus and energy into it, so as to improve their skill. When in reality, the child could make it mean that they are not good enough and become discouraged about playing the piano all together.
But guess what? Positive feedback can be something that is against your best interests. This too often boils down to the conscious and or subconscious intention that someone has for giving it to you. For example, a person might give you positive feedback because they want to avoid conflict and establish social rapport, regardless of the risk of you being totally out of reality. Or a person might give you positive feedback to strengthen their own sense of virtue because it allows them to see themselves as a good person. Or a person might give you positive feedback deliberately to mislead you, wanting you to experience the consequence that is awaiting you down the road. Or a person may give you positive feedback so that they will be in your favor, so that they will get something they want out of you. This list too goes on and on.
But just like with negative feedback, even a positive intention can lead to negative results when it comes to positive feedback. For example, a person may want to console a friend who just had a difficult breakup and make them feel better about themselves. The friend tells them that their partner broke up with them because they didn’t feel listened to. In response, the person tells their friend that they are a fabulous listener and are also a really caring person. In fact, they go on to say that the problem was that their partner was a narcissist. The problem in, their friend actually is a terrible listener in relationships and behaves in less than caring ways. This friend will continue to have relationships that fail because of their behavior. But the person keeps putting them out of reality and thus lending their energy to and playing a part in the failure of their friend’s relationships.
What is important to know is that positive feedback can be beneficial and it can be detrimental. And the same is true for negative feedback. It can be beneficial and it can be detrimental. But knowing all of this, the focus for this episode is how negative feedback can be beneficial and can be FOR you and in your best interests. And here is how:
- Let’s go for the lowest hanging fruit. Negative feedback is the essential ingredient for improvement and progress. Companies understand this. It’s why they try to entice you to fill out customer surveys. Negative feedback can very clearly show you what is not working for you and what you need to do instead. It points out the path of positive change. There is nothing worse than hitting a road block, but being in the dark about what the problem actually is. Bottom line, negative feedback leads to improvement.
- It increases self-awareness. Other people are looking at us from the outside. They often see things about us that we don’t see about ourselves. And they have a different perception of what we do and create than we do. The information that they give us from their perspective, increases our ability to clearly see ourselves. It is more information. And information is power. Awareness cannot be gained if all we are willing to become aware of, is the positive. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Self Concept, The Enemy of Awakening.
- It puts us further in reality. It’s easy for people to live life in a bubble reality built for one. The problem is, this is a consensus reality. So, you can’t actually be successful and empowered if you don’t include other people’s opinions in your picture of reality. And reality is our axis for true power. Getting information about how we are perceived, helps us to exercise our free will regarding what is and/or what other people perceive. To understand more about this, you can watch my videos. The first titled: Reality. And the second titled: Why You Should Know and Accept the Truth, even if it Hurts.
- It tends to trigger heightened inspiration, creativity and determinism. As counterintuitive as it sounds, negative feedback can make us more creative and can lead to breakthroughs in areas where we were stuck before. It fosters innovative thinking. This is even backed up by scientific experiments now.
- It increases a sense of urgency and importance regarding positive changes. As people, we only translate a fraction of feedback into practice. We don’t register it as impactful. Negative feedback is particularly impactful. It also causes us to have a greater sense of potential reward if we do make a change based off of the negative feedback we receive and a greater sense of potential consequence if we don’t make a change based off of the negative feedback we receive. Therefore, negative feedback is often the strongest catalyst.
- Negative feedback is a learning opportunity. Learning causes expansion. And expansion is one of the primary purposes for life itself. Knowledge is such a valuable thing. And again, it puts power in your hands.
- Negative feedback can in fact reveal hidden positives that you didn’t see about yourself and that you can capitalize on and use to your benefit as well. With this in mind, it can lead you closer to your actual purpose. So that you can understand this, I’ll give you an example. I know a woman who got terrible feedback about her leadership skills. She was told that she comes across weak, like she wants everyone to just figure things out on their own and that she needs everyone to do her job for her because she keeps looking to the whole team for answers. This led to her realizing that she does not excel at being in a leadership position. But to the opposite, looking into what needs she was trying to meet by the behavior she exhibited with her team, she realized that she excels when it comes to carrying out tasks that she is told to do and also at collaborating. Realizing this, she decided to go to human resources and ask if any jobs were available that required those skills specifically. They told her that a position as an executive assistant was open. She applied for the job, knowing that she would never have considered it before. She got the job. And now, she feels like she is in the exact right place for her. She feels valued and like her excellence is recognized. The company will not let her go because she is so good at what she does and is so reliable and easy to work with. Negative feedback can go a long way towards us finding out what, where and who is the wrong fit and what, where and who is the right fit for us.
- Feedback is an essential element of relationships. Without feedback, we are not really in relationship with the other person. We don’t know what they think, how they feel, what impact we have on them, what they want and need, what is working, what the problems are, how to repair relationships ruptures with them etc. We need that information to find compatible relationships and to know what to do within our relationships. There is no way to have a real relationship with no feedback. And real feedback implies both positive and negative.
While it doesn’t feel good, negative feedback can in fact be far more useful and helpful to someone. And if you are brave enough to develop a different relationship with negative feedback, you can use it as a tool to enhance your life and to succeed. This is true alchemy.