On Friday I got some feedback and it got me a bit riled up. Before I knew it I reverted to my traditional behaviour of venting my fury. Picking it apart. In that moment I was pissed.
You see, I've been making an effort in recent years to put myself in positions where I can receive feedback on my work. This blog is a prime example. I'd use the old line "it never gets any easier" but I'm not sure that accurately depicts the situation. I have found that it very much depends on the circumstances. And interestingly , the circumstances aren't related to the positive or negative nature of the feedback itself. It relates to who is giving said feedback.
I've found that when the feedback is from people who are known and identifiable, they can be as critical as they like and I'm cool with it. Because in these circumstances it is almost always in line with the goal that I'm striving to achieve. They are simply helping me work toward that goal. Their feedback is an act of generosity. Or they're just being an asshole. But they are being an identifiable asshole, and that's ok.
The feedback I have difficulty is the anonymous kind, where there is an underlying essence that the person trying to give the feedback is striving to prove their expertise, rather than test mine. And the reason I have great difficulty with it is that every time I've been in this circumstance the anonymous expert has delivered feedback that illuminates their blind spots as well as mine. Their area of unconscious incompetence. In trying to look clever, they have made one or two remarks discrediting something I have written that makes me doubt their credibility.
My immediate reaction is to let them have it and cut them down with academic angst. But this consumes a high level of emotional energy and at the end of the day does very little to help me achieve my goals. It also means I fail to face the elements of their feedback are valid. And there is always something that is valid, even if it's just that I failed to be able to effectively communicate my message to a pain in the ass reviewer. That's still valid.
I find this sort of thing really difficult to get past. But the reality is that I have to if I want to achieve my goal.
So yes, I did have a moment of fury on Friday, but it went down with the sunset. I was able to divorce what is needed to achieve my goals from the credibility of the process. It's still not going to be easy, but that's ok. I can save my emotional energy for systems that may be amenable to change.