As you work to bring your changes into the world, people will inevitably tell you that you’re wrong.
They’ll say you’re too early or too late, too simple or too complicated, too shallow, too deep, going about it in the wrong way, in the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time.
Listen to them and thank them.
And then remember that we are all human becomings and it has taken you your whole life to come to the understanding you have now, just as it has taken them their whole life to come to theirs.
So the fact that they are bringing you what seems like negative feedback might mean one of four things:
- They are far ahead of you in the way they understand the world, so the changes you suggest are no longer relevant for them.
(This likely means their feedback is encouraging you to move forward faster but they’re not articulating it very clearly.)
- They are far behind you and not yet ready to understand the changes you are suggesting.
(In which case, what would it take for them to catch up with you, how much effort would that take, and is it a priority for you to make that effort?)
- They are exactly the people you are trying to influence but they are not understanding the way you are communicating your vision.
(So listen to them, understand their point of view, learn from them, and adapt your message to make it more relevant to the way they see the world.)
- They are simply on a different path, heading towards a different purpose with different values.
(So your work will never be relevant for them — and that’s fine).
When someone brings you what seems like negative feedback:
- Listen to them, thank them, and make sure you’ve understood them correctly
- Ask yourself: does this change my priorities, or the route I take to reach my priorities?
- Do it anyway: either the same as before or better
What might seem like negative feedback is always an opportunity for you: either to refine and improve your message to this person or to stop wasting time here and move on.
Has anyone given you what seemed like negative feedback recently? Is it an opportunity for you to advance your understanding, improve the way you are communicating, or put your energy and resources somewhere else?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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