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by Vault Consulting Editors | July 23, 2009


My last installment focused on performance reviews focus, but what I find more interesting is the psychology of receiving feedback. As someone interested in personal growth, feedback has great potential value, and I'm interested in realizing that value.

Receiving feedback has been far tougher than I imagined. In an ideal situation with an exemplary manager, it's easy to incorporate that feedback immediately. In any given situation, however, your goal is to objectively view the feedback and take value from it to help you in the future. Anything else is water under the bridge.

If you get negative feedback, consider the subject first, then the source. Primarily, one should evaluate the substance of the argument. Be critical of the feedback. Is the manager evaluating you a person that you should be emulating? Even if not, are his words true? If the answer to both is no, cut those comments loose and let them drift away. Psychologically, it’s hard to dismiss feedback from others, even if it came out of the wrong end of a bull. You can always send them a copy of The No Asshole Rule for Christmas. Just kidding.

I try to consider the archetype of the old man versus the young punk. Is the reviewer being the former or you the latter? Will you view this differently with experience later or not?

To keep perspective on things, you may be evaluated in the results of the experience, not necessarily just your performance. In order to get good reviews and progress in your career, you need to achieve something. However, you need a proper situation that enables that success. A lot of situations will not facilitate this, and you can’t always avoid them or be as lucky as some of those who have received a string of them.

Developing to the next level requires achievement that consists of a situation where you can learn and perform, gaining deeper knowledge and skill. This is why you need to focus your experiences to progress. There will always be someone who has a set of experiences that will get them there faster than you. Focus on what you have and will achieve (what you can control). Do not compare yourself to others, only on improving yourself—otherwise you will quickly get frustrated. Take the constructive feedback and build a portfolio of experiences and achievements.

--Taylor O'Neal is a supply chain consultant for a major consulting firm. He graduated from Miami University School of Business in 2005 and Indiana University's Kelley Masters of Information Systems program in 2006.


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