Does This Opinion Matter to Me?


Can we all admit that feedback is the fucking worst? Ok, so maybe it's not the worst, but its totally uncomfortable. And yes of course feedback makes us better, it takes us out of our bubble, its helps to show us other perspectives, yada yada yada. But it's still frustrating, it can definitely still make us feel like we've been doing things "wrong."

So first of all, we need to remind ourselves that the world is cut in half into "rights" and "wrongs." It's also crucial to understand that what is right for some isn't right for all, even if you respect someone their opinion doesn't have to make or break you.

But thats how it feels, right? Someone you admire gives you constructive criticism and suddenly your confidence is shredded, you're a puddle of used-to-be-person. How could you have ever thought (fill in the blank) was a good idea? You should pretty much just give up.

Now that we've gotten the melodramatic overreaction out of the way, let's actually unpack some of this shit.

Learning how to receive criticism is a skill that takes a long time to hone, possibly even a lifetime. In fact, I know very few people that I would consider good at receiving feedback (and i am most certainly not proficient). And often our ability to receive is directly related to the other person's ability to give good feedback. 

All of that aside, even if you're shit at getting feedback that doesn't have to be another thing on your ever-growing list of things to work on. You can have your reaction. You can feel defeated when someone tells you how to fix yourself. You're allowed to feel like you're standing naked in a room having all of your flaws pointed out for the world to see. And guess're not alone in that either. 

I think whats more important is what we do once we pull ourselves back together. How do we take the feedback we were given and integrate it into our lives? A friend of mine, Regan Walsh, wrote a blog recently about recovering confidence after someone gives you negative criticism (it's a great resource, you should read it).

One of the things she touches upon is to consider the source. I cannot stress enough how important this is. But more than just how much you respect the feedback giver or how knowledgable they might be...consider them as a person.

Are they impossible to please? Do they "get" what you're trying to accomplish? Are they generally negative or nit-picky? Do they have a vested interest in throwing you off your game? (I know we'd all like to think that the last thing doesn't happen...but there are all kinds of people out there and sometimes their intentions aren't entirely honorable).

But you should also think about yourself as a person too. Does the opinion that was given to you really matter? Even if your respect the person, even if it was given with the best of intentions, does that opinion matter to you? Can you implement that feedback and still be yourself? If you're constantly taking on the opinions of other people can you stay true to who you are? Are you just a Frankenstein's monster of other people's creation?

I know it might feel like I'm just throwing more questions at you, but these are all really important things to think about. We focus so much on how to gracefully receive criticism, but thats assuming all feedback is good feedback (spoiler alert: it's not).

Since we're on the subject, let's talk about the feedback itself, the object of this whole conversation. Because even if you respect the feedback-giver, even if it fits into your narrative, does it align with what you're trying to achieve? If it doesn't, does it make sense to you to change directions? Do you think it will make you better? 

And LASTLY (I mean it), just because someone wants to give you feedback it doesn't mean you have to take it. When they ask, "Can I give you a few suggestions?" YOU CAN SAY NO! I know, that's fucking crazy, who would have thought? You can say: "No thanks, I'm good" OR "Wow, I really appreciate you offering, but I got it" OR "That's really kind of you, but I'm not ready to take feedback yet."

We all have room for growth...but you get to decide when/how/why. 

Melissa Petty