Why IS it so hard to take on board feedback sometimes?
21 Jun. 2019

Why IS it so hard to take on board feedback sometimes?  This is a question that can come up when we consider 360 assessments, and how to ensure that participants get the most value from this often daunting experience. Thanks for the Feedback (2014) suggests that when we do reject feedback, it’s likely that one of three triggers are in the way:

  1.   The Truth Trigger: This is when we view the feedback is wrong, or unfair. E.g “This feedback is telling me that I don’t address poor performance in my team, but that’s rubbish, and here are 5 examples of when I have done exactly that!”
  2.    The Relationship Trigger: This is when you don’t trust the source of the feedback, or you don’t like the person.  E.g. “I can’t stand Steve, and I’ve got no time for anything he has to say about me.  But Jenny, she’s lovely, I’ll listen to her.”
  3.    The Identity Trigger: This is when the feedback challenges the essence of who we are. E.g. “I see myself as a supportive, helpful and caring person, that’s just who I am.  But this feedback says that I don’t listen to people – how can that be?!” Rejecting this feedback in this case is about self-protection, and survival.

Through building greater awareness of these triggers, we can both help others to explore and understand their own feedback, and use this awareness to support our own ability to genuinely hear and listen to feedback about ourselves without blocking it and missing out on the gold.