We leave in a society where you can't say much to anyone anymore without stepping on someone's toes or offending someone. Especially when you are in the business or sports world, which I'd have to assume a lot of individuals are in speaking to others, going to meetings, dealing with people is extremely common. I have found myself constantly asking myself this question over and over again today. "What is one thing that can relate to both athletes and non-athletes I can talk about?" This is what I came up with. Giving and recieving feedback, or we can call feedback, criticism. Criticism seems to be throw some people because immediately when we hear that word we think negatively and have a poor connotation and relationship to the word. Which leads me to the first two points. Knowing your audience and building relationships.
When giving and or recieving feedback. Knowing your audience is key. In simpler terms, knowing your audience means knowing who you are talking to. When we say knowing who we are talking to does just mean know their name, position, title, etc. It means knowing the person. Giving feedback is all about knowing your audience which boils down to building relationships. For example, if you were to meet someone for the first time and just went up to them and said "wow that shirt looks terrible on you and it's all wrinkled. Is everything ok with you today?" How do you suspect they would respond? I'd have to assume not the greatest. If it were I'd laugh it off and not pay attention to the person but unfortunately not everyone is able to do that. That is why knowing your audience is extremely important when giving feedback. As we said knowing your audience comes from building relationships. Building relationships is important to giving feedback like my example mentioned that person saying to someone without knowing them is typically never a good way to start a conversation. But, if you build a relationship with someone and get to know them over the months of just normal conversation, giving feedback will be a lot easier. For example if you have a player who is not performing well and you feel as if something is not right with him/her. And you have been just having casual conversation in practice, before games, in the locker, in the weight room and you know a few personal things about them, you know they will react to feedback it will be a lot easier to sit this person down and talk. By you building that relationship it makes giving feedback 10x easier, you may not always say the right thing or be successful in the conversation but knowing your audience is extremely important.
When it comes to receiving feedback, something a lot of individuals can be better at. Really when you think about it all it comes down to is perception. Whenever someone speaks down to me, poorly of me or gives me feedback. I simply put myself in their shoes and think for a second
(A) "what can be going in this persons life to make him/her say this?"
(B) "is a reaction here necessary?"
(C)"am I going to be a better person by responding to this person?"
(D) "am I at fault here?"
(E) "do I need to do better?"
I can almost guarantee that if you are to ask yourself one or two of those questions before responding to someone's feedback or criticism you will be in a much happier head space. I am not saying every time this will work some scenarios tend to be different then others but those five questions should help. Another issue I see with others when it comes to receiving feedback is that they are too emotionally invested in the conversation and or not under control of their emotions. What that means is that you have hold an emotional charge in this conversation that at any point, anything that wind you up. It's like when politics come up during the family dinner on Christmas or any holiday. A lot of emotion is involved you have a lot of loved ones in the room that you think are undermining you and you quickly go silent or snap. We need to be more aware of the situation and our emotions. Going into a conversation extremely invested with our emotions and not our mind is never a good idea. Emotional responses tend to lead to words we regret, knee jerk reactions and ruined relationships. Finally when it comes to receiving feedback, it really is based on one's perception. However you choose to take those words is all on you, while yes some individuals may not necessarily care nor think twice about what they are saying can affect you. At the end of the day, you have the power of choice. Are you going to allow the feedback to break you down, make you hold a grudge and live with vengeance in your heart all day. Or you can allow it to just be words and allow them to roll of your shoulder, you move on and save the negative feedback as fuel for later. OR if the feedback is truly granted and you have been slacking, you are not doing your job and you need to get back on track. Do not blame anyone else or get mad at your boss or coach for speaking the truth, take a look in the mirror and get better. Too many individuals take feedback that is warranted and try to make it seem as if they are being attacked. In today's culture (this may trigger some) we have allowed people to not be accountable of their actions, their jobs and their behavior. We accept people getting upset cause their boss fired them, or told them they suck at their job or they need to do better. We allow people to constantly play the victim card and spin the story the other way. When it comes to recieving criticism, whether it is warranted to or not, you control your reaction to the person's words and you cannot allow one or even 100 peoples words offend you or you will find yourself as that one friend who is always in the gutter and complaining. And the same goes for individuals who come after others and just say things to people because they just feel like and do not necessarily care about how these words may affect you. At the end of the day it all comes down to your perception of these words, how do you perceive, how will you let them affect you and will you be the bigger person at the end of the conversation.
Personally I never take anything, anyone says to me personally because it is not worth the time and effort of having to constantly worry, live with vengeance and hold grudges against people over one thing they said. They could have been dealing with some tough stuff personally and are not in the right head space. You never know what someone is going through so honestly never take anything anyone says personally and you will be way happier day in and day out.
I hope this does not bother anyone and I hope some individuals find the information in this article helpful. It certainly helps me in everyday encounters as well as in the work force and with family and friends. If there is two thing you can walk away with from this article it is (1) know your audience and build relationships (2) think before you react and ask yourself the five questions above (A through D) before responding to others.
How can you improve for tomorrow?