Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why We Hate Feedback

It's hard listening to what we do wrong. Whether it's from a client, a consultant, friend or spouse. It  hurts our ego and makes us think less of what we think we are. We rationalize that the feedback is biased or just perceptions, and not reality.

We're wrong of course. Most the time the feedback we get is right on. It's reality. We just can't process it. We can't accept that we're not the pretty picture we create of ourselves.

I read a book a while ago, Willful Blindness, that suggested humans are hard-wired to ignore negative feedback. It's a survival thing. Think of all those in desperate situations, like a concentration camp. Nazis all around with machine guns pointing at you.  Yet, you manage to hope for... life.

Less drastic by a million light years is hearing that your client thinks your creative is not edgy enough and that you're late returning phone calls. Of course they're wrong. They didn't understand the strategy. And, they only remember the one time you didn't return a call, on the weekend after all.

If they were right you'd go nuts because you'd have to change. And you don't want to.

If we had smaller egos, feedback wouldn't hurt as much. We would be smaller targets with fewer nerve endings. If we had no ego, feedback wouldn't  hurt at all and we'd actually do something positive to change.

The Zen Master Dogen was right: to study the self (improve) is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things...

Want great client relationships and increased client retention? Deflate the balloon.

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