Accepting feedback is tough. No one likes to hear how they need to improve. So how do we accept feedback? I give my students the 24-hour rule. I tell them they have 24-hours to be angry and play the blame game – blame me, blame their dog, blame everyone else but themselves. They can sulk, cry, get angry and play the victim. I encourage them to feel the emotions for the first 24 hours. However, after 24 hours, it is time to put away the victim role and begin to take on what am I going to do about it role.
What am I going to do about it? This is the turning point to accepting feedback. We have choices – a) accept feedback, accept responsibility and implement a plan to address the area(s) of need or b) choose to continue to blame everyone else for your dilemma. All too often students/teachers do not connect the dots between accepting feedback and taking responsibility for their actions. This is why being intentional in telling the student/teacher to have 24 hours to dwell on the feedback, to feel the emotions, to get the emotions out is so important. Why? Because it is normal to feel upset about receiving not-so-great feedback. It hurts. If we try to think and act like everything is okay, the deeper issues will not be resolved. Our egos are in place to protect and defend. Let the ego feel, then let it go. Focus your attention on getting better. It is a process.
There is so much to accepting feedback. Let’s not forget the human factor. Beginning with the reality of the situation is a step in the right direction. Recognizing that feedback can be a blow to the ego is essential in the process of accepting feedback. Giving them time to heal is critical. Guiding the person to set a goal that addresses the challenge is another step. And having them focus on the small steps and not get ahead of themselves is key as well.
We are in a world where feedback is an assumed quality we think all teachers/students should be able to handle and accept. No matter what stage you are in your career, pre-service to seasoned veteran, we all have an ego that likes to think it’s protecting us. Part of the protection process is blame and shame. Give them 24 hours to wallow in the ego state, then put an action plan together. It does seem to help.
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