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How to Ask for Honest Feedback Without Feeling Hurt

How to Ask for Honest Feedback Without Feeling Hurt

Ever since childhood, our parents and school teachers were constantly correcting and directing us by teaching the difference between right and wrong, and how to behave appropriately. We have been shaped by feedback, as we were always submerged in a “feedback pool.”

Somehow we have tricked ourselves into believing that no news usually implies good news. “If I don’t receive any feedback, then that must mean that I’m doing a great job and nothing needs to be improved. Right?” Unfortunately, not always. Many people are reluctant to give feedback because they feel that they may come across as bossy, or start a conflict.

We never learned how to actively consult for feedback, so we are typically very passive when it comes to receiving it.

This is because we receive less feedback as we age. Our parents and teachers start to back off a bit. This could be because they become more conscious on the impression that they leave on us, or they believe that it’s time we shape ourselves as people. True as that may be, many people don’t have the ability to fully self-reflect and find what needs improvement. We need some sort of guidance from an outside perspective to point out the variables that we can’t notice ourselves.

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People are reluctant to give feedback, and even more reluctant to receive it.

Not receiving feedback from others does not always mean that we are doing a good job. In fact, it can cause a rift in our performance because we have no direction in terms of the progress we have already made, and how to approach oncoming tasks.

The absence of feedback creates a bias

Self-reflection is a vital practice for improvement, but if you think you can quickly improve by relying solely on your own self-review, you are sorely mistaken.  We develop a certain perspective when we perform, and we follow the path and practices that we think will bring us the most success.

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If we only look at things from our own perspective, then all of our decisions are influenced by bias because we only consider one side of the coin. This practice of only accepting information that supports your perspective is called confirmation bias. The lack of feedback feeds into the idea that your way is the right way, because no one has ever challenged you or suggested any sort of improvement.  That’s why relying only on self-reflection is not impossible, but takes a lot more effort and time.

So it’s very important to get feedback from an outsider perspective. You will be forced to consider variables that had never occurred to you, and in the end improve your performance.

Asking for feedback can be very intimidating. You’re essentially asking people to tell you what you’ve been doing wrong and point out your flaws. There are techniques to safely ask for feedback and appropriately digest the information, equipping you to use to it your advantage.

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The way that you approach for feedback will influence the way that you receive it

Feedback will only be helpful if you choose to accept it positively, and use it as momentum to improve.  Resist the natural reaction to take things personally, because this information is a chance to grow and learn. If you allow yourself to be offended, you will never accept the information on a factual level. In other words, buck up and take it.

It’s okay to feel bad because it’s not easy to hear that you’re anything less than perfect. Especially when it feels like an attack on your livelihood. But you can’t doubt yourself because of this, or try to explain away the criticism.  Just assume that whoever is giving you this feedback wants to see you improve.  And once you know what needs to change, all you need to do is get out there and do it.

The key is to pick the RIGHT person and frame your question accordingly

You want to choose someone that you trust and respect, and who really has a firm grasp on the topic at hand.  They should have experience facing the obstacles that are coming your way, and will provide you with honest feedback and advice on how to overcome them.

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How you approach receiving feedback is crucial as well. It is not enough to ask someone that you admire. They may not be properly trained on how to give feedback appropriately as teachers are. So you need to be prepared with questions to ask them so that you receive answers within your scope of expectation.

For example: If you want to improve your speech presentation, you need to ask questions directly related to that. Instead of asking what they think about a certain aspect as a whole, ask what specifically could be improved. The broad question of, “what do you think of my ____?” leaves room for personal judgment, and even more room to get offended. By carefully asking questions, you will be directing their focus towards a solution.

Create a positive Feedback Loop

Taking in feedback is never easy if you only see it as criticism instead of a chance to improve.  Thinking of it as a fast track to achieve what you want will make you feel less offended and motivates you to ask for more feedback.  Last of all, you must act on the feedback given and apply it!  At Lifehack, we encourage everyone to get feedback fast, and get it early during the learning process.  Like running up a staircase, each time you receive and apply feedback you’re creating a feedback loop that helps you make upward progress.  Going up stairs step by step is much easier than having to suddenly climb up a wall.  So have confidence and be proactive.  With this perspective, you’ll find that getting the right feedback is like gold – it can save you hours of wasted effort and accelerate your progress by leaps and bounds.

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 21, 2019

How to Deal with Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal with Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time. It’s a natural part of our emotions. And expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone.

That being said, too much anger is counterproductive. Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and at work. Inappropriate in this context can be too much anger, too often, or a times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger: Unhealthy vs Healthy Ways

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your spouse or significant other, kids, bosses, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information, we just have to be willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

3 Common Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here’re some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. Not very productive but extremely common.

Poorly Timed

This is something I’ve been guilty of. I tend to be pretty open and out there with my emotions. As such, I’ve been known to express my anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

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An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

As a matter of fact, over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time and it’s a no-win situation.

3 Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways to adapt? Some healthy ways to express anger in our relationships include:

Being Honest

Expressing your anger or disagreement in an honest fashion. By this, I mean be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond. But that’s okay because you want to be honest.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else. And don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

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Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How To Deal With Anger

So if you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slowdown

Maybe this has happened to you as well. From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response. And that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner.

2. Keep It to the “I’s”

As in it’s you that is upset. You are upset because of something. Don’t accuse people of making you upset. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “You always want to upset me because you don’t put away your dishes”. Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me – can you work with me to come to a solution?”.

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

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3. Workout

I have definitely used this technique when I have been upset. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from an expert if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.

If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable, and healthy level.

How To Control Your Emotions

Having out of control emotions other than anger can lead to similar challenges in our lives. If you find yourself with emotional overflow here’s some ideas to help get your emotions under control.

Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation. That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax like being around people we enjoy. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and exercise.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and balance their emotions. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax.

Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep emotions in check and things in a healthy perspective.

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Remember, life isn’t a race. It’s a journey meant to be enjoyed fully along the way. Make sure you take time out to laugh and have fun.

Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing and brings a smile to your face.

Be Grateful

I was just having this conversation with one of my daughters who was stressed about school. We talked about the importance of being grateful for the many things in our lives that we seem to take for granted.

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring us smiles and joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life — the things that we seem to forget easily yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions. You’ll be glad you did.

More Resources About Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Patrick Fore via unsplash.com

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