We all respond differently when receiving feedback that is about a gap. Gaps are where you could do better, something you did wrong or where you need to improve.
Some people are fuelled by the gap data and use it as an opportunity for growth. To become more aware, more skilled and reach a higher goal. It’s not personal – it’s just information. For these people the pre-frontal cortex is responding. The part that would like to know their mistakes and do better.
Others hear gap feedback and want to run like a mouse. Or attack like a magpie (the person giving them the feedback or whoever gave it in the first place). Or they might ‘monkey’ their way through and crack gags. Seemingly good about receiving it but wearing humour as the mask. Our amygdala hijack is responding here as we see it as a threat. We hear the feedback as an attack, that we are weak or not good enough. Or all of the above.
There is an intellectual you (pre-frontal cortex) and an emotional you (amygdala). And they are at odds with each other. We know feedback can be a tool used to learn and grow, but we don’t feel safe hearing it – because of the consequences or perceived ones.
We can win this battle. We can end up having them work together. It takes a willingness to do so. To stop blame and shame and move to learn and grow.
But it’s not for everybody. Some people can just be stuck in their stress response.
How do you know how you respond? Just notice how you respond when someone disagrees with you, or says you could do better. Do you respond with curiosity or with defence or shut down.
I try to subscribe to author James Clear’s way of thinking; ‘Be more concerned about having blind spots than hearing about them’.
If you want to hear more about why feedback feels so hard and what you can do about it you should come to my next online event Embedding a Feedback Culture in 2023. Check it out here.