When Feedback Makes You Mad

You just received feedback that made you mad.

You feel attacked, misjudged, and underappreciated. The person who gave you feedback is obviously an idiot.

You begin typing your resignation email. Before you hit send…

5D’s when feedback makes you mad:

#1. Delay.

When you feel attacked, adrenaline rushes in to save the day. Adrenaline offers three options: fight, flight, or freeze.

Adrenaline makes you stupid. Blood rushes from your brain and organs to your muscles. Give yourself thirty minutes to become human again.

#2. Doubt your initial reaction.

Inaccurate assumptions and definitions dominate initial reactions.

#3. Don’t criticize the giver or the method.

You can always find fault, especially when you’re mad. Finding fault when receiving feedback is destructive to relationships, future feedback, and personal growth.

#4. Define terms.

Your boss told you, “Take the bull by the horns.  You’re too passive.” But your boss is like a bull in a china shop. He bullies people and causes havoc. He wants you to be more like him?!?!

Ask questions like:

  1. When you see me being passive, what do you see me doing?
  2. If you saw me taking the bull by the horns, what would you see me doing?
  3. What would it feel like to you if I took the bull by the horns?

You can solve any issue if you define it with behaviors. But you can’t solve something vague like, “You’re too passive.”

#5. Dig deep.

Useful feedback often addresses blindspots. You just don’t see it. Dig in with one question, “What might be right about this feedback?”

Ask colleagues, “What might be right about this feedback?” Surprisingly, you may find a tiny grain of truth.

After the 5D’s, return to the giver. Explain what you’ll do with their feedback, if anything.

What are some useful responses when feedback makes you mad?

Resource: Responding to Feedback You Disagree With (HBR)