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UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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July 2012: Receiving Constructive Feedback Practice #1 - “Change your vantage point & receive constructive feedback with anticipation”

At first glance, this month’s practice might seem overly optimistic. You might be saying to yourself “What? You’ll be lucky if I open myself up to receive constructive feedback at all, let alone with anticipation!” Receiving feedback about how we’re doing in our relationships can be challenging as our egos are at stake. We usually apply a host of different responses in the face of this feedback. We reject it and become defensive; we admit to it but justify why; we instantly apologize but feel resentful later, etc. Do any of these sound familiar? Are any effective ways of receiving feedback or preserving partnership?

Before we talk about how to do this and the following month’s practices, it’s important to note that it’s recommended that this and the future practices in this series be applied in significant relationships (supervisors, subordinates, or close colleagues; family members; romantic partners; and friends). You don’t have to give everyone permission to give you feedback.

This month’s practice is about changing our vantage point. Let’s imagine for a moment that the purpose of life was about learning and growth. From this vantage point, all incoming feedback, both positive and developmental, would be met with anticipation, as we would continually be on a path of bettering ourselves. This month, practice expanding your vantage point to see all feedback this way. Assume the person offering it has good intentions and see them as a gift giver. Thank them for the feedback and then spend some time reflecting on where this feedback might be true in your life. You may find that’s it’s not true but you’ll only discover this upon reflection. See the attached reflection sheet for support. What are you learning about yourself and how are you preserving partnership with this practice?

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