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Seeing critical feedback as a sign of love

  • Posted on June 6, 2011 at 5:17 am

OK, so here is an interesting topic to ponder: Do your feelings get hurt when another person gives you feedback that is contradictory to what you had thought/created?

Over the past couple of days, I have had this situation presented to me twice.

In the first instance, I was the person giving the feedback, and in the second I was consoling my daughter who received guiding feedback from her teacher.  Let me discuss each separately.

A couple of days ago a dear friend of mine sent me a copy of brochure for an upcoming workshop she is planning.  She solicited my thoughts, though I am not sure she anticipated the amount of feedback that I provided.  Having attended a seminar recently that was specifically focused on marketing, I felt that I had some additional insights to share with her, so I passed them on.  From my viewpoint, the more ideas and suggestions that I made, the more love I was imparting to her and her new venture.   However, I was also quite aware of the potential that my comments could be received as criticism, and deflate someone whom I was intending to lift up!  In giving the feedback I was very clear in setting my intent that all comments were aimed at increasing her success, and I am fortunate that my friend is very wise and knows that I have her best interests at heart.

The experience did get me thinking though.  I realised that I would not have gone to such detail in giving feedback to someone I did not care about.  In fact, it would be easier to simply say “Yeah, its great”.  So, is providing more feedback a sign of love?  Well I guess it may depend on how it is delivered, and the intent behind the person making the comments.

In my daughters case, she is also making brochures for an upcoming “travel expo” at her school.  Each girl is allocated a different town to represent, and is then expected to become a practising travel agent for that town for the day.  In making her brochures, her teacher suggested that the photos she had included might look better with a red border around them.  My daughter disagreed, but more than that, her feelings were hurt because the teacher had, in her eyes, criticised her work.  Through some tears we enjoyed a lovely discussion at home, and I was thankful to be able to give my daughter a different perspective on her teachers motives.  I was able to show her that it was actually her teacher’s intent to help her, and to make her brochure more ‘successful’.  It was, essentially, an act of love.

So the trick, is in realising this when we are on the receiving end…  All too easily our ego jumps in, eager to defend the work we have done, or the stance that we are taking.  In doing so, we may just miss the opportunity to grow, to learn, to be nourished by this other soul who has actually taken the time to give us feedback.  It may in fact have been easier for them to pass on by, to let things lie, rather than to make the effort to add their advice and perspective.  They may even be risking their new idea being rejected by us, but feel that the potential benefit is worth the risk.  Sometimes this is the reason that critical comments are made with such force.  It says more about the concern of the person delivering them, and their fear that they won’t be sufficiently heard and taken seriously, than it does of the true need for changes to be made.

I invite you, when next someone offers you some advice, especially when it seems critical or contradictory to your current thoughts, to say thankyou.  They have taken the time to present their ideas, the least you can do is take the time to receive them.  Discard the thoughts, if that then feels right, after having allowed the love to be received and the intent to be analysed.

Do you have examples of times when criticism you received actually turned out to be the best piece of advice you received?  I would love for you to share your story by leaving me a comment…