Real vs. Rubbish

Posted on March 21, 2013



In my last post, I expounded on why it’s important to be able to assess the messenger of feedback and criticism you receive. In this post, I’m going to show you how. 

In one of my favorite books of all time,  Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, author Lois Frankel advises women to be cautious of any unsolicited criticism and negative feedback they may receive.

“Nice girls can be naive,” she states. “Trusting that others always have their best interests at heart, they absorb negative feedback like a sponge. They don’t stop to ask themselves whether the person offering it may have a hidden agenda or whether he or she has the credentials or expertise to provide useful evaluative information.” 

I’m so glad that I found Lois Frankel’s book before I became a mother. But how I wish I had found it when I was single! Not only do people feel the need to tell others (without hesitation, I may add) how to raise their children, but they seem to know all the things one is doing wrong in the world of dating. Does this sound familiar? 

The next time someone criticizes you, gives you negative feedback or just offers some ‘helpful advice’ without you requesting it first, it may help to take the following steps (modified from Frankel’s book) to see whether or not the feedback is even worth listening to:

1.  Consider the circumstances.

If you’ve invited the feedback, then you have to be prepared to accept that the other person is sharing what they need to with you. If the feedback hasn’t been invited, then look at the source. For example, negative feedback from your boss as part of an evaluation is meant to help you become a better employee. But the same kind of negative feedback from a coworker may be an attempt to make you anxious and undermine you. 

2. Analyze the delivery.

Did the person send you an email or text or was the feedback delivered face-to-face or over the phone? Was the tone respectful? Was your privacy respected? Were specific examples provided of the behavior the person suggested that you change?  Does the person share insights about what you should change only when certain other people are present? Does this person share feedback with you one-on-one?

3. Look at the person’s credentials.

 If a person has relevant expertise or experience, their feedback may be true. However, keep in mind that many things are subjective. For example, if you have a friend who’s an interior designer and she feels the need to criticize your style as ‘outdated,’ she may be right. However, your home is your home and you can decorate it however you like. 

4. Trust your instincts. 

Sometimes feedback you receive just ‘doesn’t feel right.’ In this case, you can thank the other person for their input but think about what they’ve said and decide later on whether or not it has any merit. 

Posted in: Relationships