The Vine – October 2019

Issue #9

October 2019

Curated by John McCallum-Cherry

Welcome to The Vine.

A monthly editorial bringing fresh cultural content from Bloom. 

If you’re going to say what you want to say, you’re going to hear what you don’t want to hear.” Roberto Bolano. 

This month, our focus is on feedback. Whether we love it, hate it, or plead indifference – feedback is a consistent fact of everyday life. In relationships, friendships, school, college, university, work, feedback exists and how we react to it, determines a lot. 

Truth Triggers 

The first trigger relates to an unshakeable belief that the feedback we’ve received that just. isn’t. true. It could be negative or positive feedback. How many of us will hear praise and think… that can’t be true? The key to identifying a truth trigger is how we react to feedback, whether orally or in our thoughts. The solution is simple, evaluate. Separate the type of feedback you are receiving – here are three categories – appreciation, coaching and evaluation. It’s important to recognise both the type of feedback you’re looking for and also the type the giver is offering. With this framework, take a moment to reflect and understand the feedback. Next, try to understand your blind spots. This may require an outside voice to help identify the blind spot, simply because, a spot is only blind because we don’t know it’s there. Even ‘if you decide that 90% of the feedback is off-target, that last golden 10% might just be the insight you need to grow’.

Relationship Triggers

This trigger relates to your relationship with the person giving it. This will ultimately influence your perception of any feedback received. It could be due to a perception of the person’s ‘(lack of) credibility, (un)trustworthiness, or (questionable) motives’. It can even be due to misunderstandings, relationships that have gotten off on the wrong foot, or the reverse, why is this person I respect and admire criticising me? When we experience a relationship trigger, as rational humans, we will of course, immediately focus on the relationship and not the actual feedback. The solution? Disentangle what from who. This means not falling into the easy trap of what the experts call ‘switchtracking’. Changing the topic from the feedback at hand to the relationship trigger – which sure, can be true, can be important, can be relevant, but alas, it’s a separate conversation from the one at hand. 

Identity Triggers

Do you have a closed mindset? I.e ‘I can’t do this’, or a growth mindset? ‘I might not be good at this now, but I will be’. Identity triggers affect the story of who we are and what the future will be, and any attempted feedback that is critical in nature can easily put that under threat. This isn’t a one size fits all, we’re all wired differently and will respond differently when our presumed identity is triggered. So the first step is cultivating self-awareness of our identity and our general temperament. Secondly, and if this is an identity trigger in itself, consider our MBCBT program Bazaar: A Marketplace for the Mind, and learn how to trigger and tackle your cognitive distortions. Remember ‘those that handle feedback fruitfully…see themselves as ever-evolving, ever-growing. They have what is called a growth identity’.

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