At the Medical School, as in most Universities, students and academics are evaluated through specific procedures, during which feedback is given to those under assessment. Students fill in forms to provide feedback for their lecturers, tutors, and mentors and receive feedback from them as well, during OSCEs, PBLs, clinical and communication skills or personalised sessions.

I bet that most of us – when asked – said that we love/like receiving constructive criticism and we accept both negative and positive feedback, because we use it for personal development! We lied. Criticism of any sort hurts. Even when criticism is given in the best way, we only ‘like’ listening about our good qualities and characteristics. Nobody enjoys being told that we could do things in a different or better way, even knowing that applying these tips/suggestions would be beneficial. What I am saying is that there is no joy in it. Somehow our self-worth and ego are wounded. What we like is to be liked! We want to fit in, to be loved and admired!

Regardless of our feelings, cognitively we know that constructive feedback is really essential and if we want to get better we need to embrace it. Here are some practical ways that you and I could use when receiving feedback:

1)     Distinguish between the terms ‘failure’ and ‘feedback. Two different words. Feedback is no failure.

2)     Become a better active listener.  Do not get into a defensive body posture. Open your ears to the comments that you are receiving, ask clarifying questions and not judgmental or ironic –questions. Make sure you understood the feedback by summarizing what you’ve heard, instead of preparing your reply while the other person is talking.

3)     Show gratitude. This is not about being fake or pretending that you LIKE feedback. You practice gratitude by acknowledging the fact that what you hear is valuable. You receive a gift and you say thank you, even though you hate it. There is no point in arguing about it.

4)     Take your time. While time passes, we can abort negative feelings and have a better evaluation of feedback. Did I receive any new information about myself; did I know that about my performance? Based on the ‘Johari Window’, a technique created by two American psychologists, Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1914–1995) in 1955, by collecting feedback we can gather information that we were not aware of but others can see, and this helps us eliminate our “blind spots”.

We don’t like feedback but we need it. Let us all put an effort into becoming better in both giving and receiving it, and that will enhance our relationships and make us grow professionally!