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February 24, 2024 4 mins

A listener asks how to shrug off unhelpful feedback

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning.
This is Laura, Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is about how to stop wasting time and mental
energy ruminating over useless feedback. In other words, how to
keep criticism from stinging. First, I want to say that

constructive feedback is a real gift. Someone can be mean
and nasty, but if that person gives you practical suggestions
for how to improve something that matters to you, you're
best off thanking the person. You don't have to be friends,
but you can be grateful. That said, not all feedback
is constructive. I was thinking of this recently when I

got a letter from a Before Breakfast listener who leads
a church. This minister lost a close family member shortly
before Christmas. It was too late to find someone else
to lead all the holiday services, so the minister did
so while deep in grief. Then she received a note
from a parishioner who knew about the death, saying that
her holiday preaching was sub par. Ouch in this situation,

the listener knew that this criticism wasn't really fair, but
as she ruminated about it, she wondered, looking forward, if
there was a way to spend less mental energy worrying
about such criticism. I think this is a good goal,
but not just for criticism. We should also spend less
mental energy seeking out unhelpful praise. Over the years, I've

had a number of people read my books before publication
to see if they flag issues that I can't see.
I always tell them that I love it and I
hate it are equally unhelpful, even if as a human being,
I vastly prefer hearing the former. Instead, I want to
know things like I stopped reading in the middle of
chapter two because these points seemed repetitive. That's good to know.

We can contort ourselves too much to seek out praise,
just as we can make short sighted moves to avoid criticism.
Better to decouple our self esteem from both instead, I
think that unhelpful criticism or praise can best be kept
in context by drowning it with a high volume of
helpful feedback. The more feedback you get, the more you

can see that not everyone thinks X, but a lot
of people do think why, which you hadn't even considered.
You can evaluate all of it without assigning too much
weight to any one bit of it. You can see
which feedback resonates most strongly with you and figure out
a way to deal with critical feedback in a way
that feels authentic. In the minister's case, I suggested identifying

a handful of thoughtful church members who could commit to
providing feedback on her sermons every week. I also suggested
inviting some skilled retired preachers to visit her church frequently
and provide feedback as well. The higher the volume, the
more the random feedback from grumpy people can be taken
for what it is. If you find yourself then for

days about unhelpful criticism, you might think about how you
can increase the volume of feedback you receive as well.
Can you show your work to a handful of colleagues.
Can you enlist a few mentors to provide advice? If
you do public speaking, can you try out new material
in front of smaller audiences. The goal is to have
your feedback be somewhat like receiving a gift basket. If

someone gave you a box of chocolate covered cherries as
a gift, and you hated chocolate to cover cherries, well,
you might be a little bit miffed. But when the
cherries are packaged with popcorn, fancy cheeses, crackers, truffles, cookies,
and a bottle of wine. Well, no big deal. You
can find other things that you'd find worthwhile in there,
so it's all good. How do you keep unhelpful negative

feedback in chat? You can let me know at Before
Breakfast podcast at iHeartMedia dot com. In the meantime, this
is Laura. Thanks for listening, and here's to making the
most of our time. Hey, everybody, I'd love to hear
from you. You can send me your tips, your questions,

or anything else. Just connect with me on Twitter, Facebook,
and Instagram at Before Breakfast Pod. That's b E the
number four then Breakfast pod. You can also shoot me
an email at Before Breakfast podcast at iHeartMedia dot com.
That Before Breakfast is spelled out with all the letters.

Thanks so much. Should I look forward to staying in touch.
Before Breakfast is a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts
from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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