How To Take Critical Feedback —  Emotionally, Mentally, And Proactively

6 Min Read

When you are in leadership, you are going to receive critical feedback either from your team, a client, or even your manager.

How you receive that feedback will be crucial to your path as a leader and the respect you earn from others.

There used to be an expectation that you needed to receive feedback dispassionately (AKA: with stoic resting jerk face). Emotional responses were a detriment to your career and used to paint a picture of irrationalism, reactivity, and immaturity. As women in leadership have taken a more prominent role, leadership styles have shifted and the ability to marry intellect with compassion has become the new standard.

The truth is that people (on average) are compassionate, emotional beings – and that is a strength when you use it constructively. It's crucial for you to understand who you are, how you respond to feedback, and why you respond the way you do. Once you have that understanding, you can develop a process for positively addressing criticism and using it to drive your organization forward.

Step 1 - Ask for time

If the feedback has sparked some intensity within you, you are likely best to ask for some time to consider the feedback and set a time to sit down and discuss. It is easy to feel like you have to address everything on the spot, but the truth is that you don't.

At times the person with the feedback can feel the need for immediacy because they have been thinking about it for a while, and now they are ready to give the feedback to you and have you respond immediately.

While there will always be a situation where you do have to respond on the spot, know that responding to this game of hot potato is like hitting REPLY ALL to an email when you're mad. When words are spoken, they can't be taken back.

Think of this as a cooling-off period. You can call it what it is. Saying something like, "NAME, it seems like this is important for you, and it is bothering you. I want to address your feedback in a positive way for the betterment of all, but it seems like we could use a brief cooling-off period to do so. If we take this time, I can consider your feedback, and both of us can come to the table with solutions. Could we meet about this on DAY and TIME?"

Step 2 – Allow the emotion

Everyone reacts in some way to feedback. Maybe you feel defensive. Perhaps you feel angry, or it may touch that place where you don't feel worthy and it brings up feelings of doubt. Think back to the last time you received feedback that felt critical. What was the first thing you felt? Can you make space for that feeling without having to react from it right away?

Brene Brown has great insight to help you allow your emotions without being ruled by them, especially when it comes to shame. Her book, Daring Greatly, was life-changing for me and how I managed my feelings. I can be very stoic on the outside — because I am going off like a powder keg on the inside. When I grew up, I learned not to show my emotion because it was used against me. That was a defensive and subconscious coping mechanism that helped me in my childhood, but hindered me in my adult life, especially when it came to being the leader I needed to be in my business.

The concept that stuck with me from Daring Greatly was allowing yourself to feel the emotion and then let it pass. While I don't dig into the why of the emotion for long periods of time, I do ask myself why I am feeling this way. Is it the comment, the person it's coming from, is it how I am feeling about myself, or is it something in my past that is showing up at that moment?

The answer to that question is essential because it helps me understand what to do next. If the emotion is coming from me, then that is something I need to address and separate from the issue at hand. If the feeling is related to the situation, then I can manage that as well.

Step 3 – Assume everyone is coming from a good place

Let's face it, in our age of digital and social technologies, the ability to communicate effectively and positively is working its way out of our lexicon. Even if I don't agree with the feedback or how it was delivered, I go back to the fact that the person is good.

If you can assume that they are a good person, coming from a good place, then you can have compassion with them and the situation. The person has the right to feel and perceive what they feel and perceive.

Try putting yourself in their shoes. What created the reaction for them? What is the story they may be telling themselves about the situation? What is it that they desire to come out of the situation?

Remember that whatever the other person is thinking or feeling, it is real to them. You can honor that, even if you disagree or see things differently.

Considering all these questions may make you feel like you need to be a sleuth or a psychiatrist, but it's essential to finding a resolution. Only when you understand how the other person is feeling about a situation can you create real solutions.

Step 4 – Plan acceptable resolutions

Once you have an understanding of how everyone is feeling about the situation, it's time to craft a few acceptable resolutions or recommendations to bring to the table.

When you know what you can agree to in the beginning, you can allow the other person to present first. There is ownership that happens when people can bring up feedback and impact the solution. If you disagree with the proposed solutions, you can still negotiate a win-win. Often, because you've done your homework and can see the other person's perspective, you can agree and move on.

Also, to keep yourself on track, plan out an agenda for the conversation. In cases where you are receiving and resolving feedback, it can be easy to let a conversation snowball into an entirely different discussion; things just get out of hand. If this happens in the conversation, feel free to add the new feedback to the parking lot until you have resolved the original feedback.

Step 5 – Keep your word and invite positive feedback

Keep your word on any next steps you agree on as part of the solution and provide updates to the other person when things delay or change in scope. Your team wants to be heard, and your ability to listen and then take affirmative action builds their respect for you, even if they are not in agreement.

The key to being effective as a woman in leadership is not to shun emotions, but use them in positive ways to treat people like people and have authentic and honest communication around points of conflict. In doing so, you knit together your team in a way that makes them feel valued and encourages them to trust you as their leader.

5 Min Read

How Fitness Saved My Life and Became My Career

Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da

If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.

In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.

These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.

After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.

About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.

When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.

Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.

Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.

Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.

This article was originally published September 12, 2019.