I recently helped organize an event called Podcamp, a “digital unconference” designed to provide the community of Halifax and beyond with the ability to share their digital life story.

When the event ended, we asked people for their honest feedback about what went right, what went wrong and how we could do it better next year.

I specifically asked for people to give us their honest opinion about the event.

I was wholly unprepared for what happened next.

Less than 2 hours after individuals began completing the survey, I sent an email to the rest of the organizing committee informing them that I was leaving the organization.

I did not take the feedback well.

Now, fast forward a single day and I was back on board, committed (maybe more than ever) to making the next iteration of Podcamp the best yet.

So with the admission that I am often very bad at taking advice, here now is a quick guide to taking feedback.

This Has Nothing To Do With You

We take feedback incredibly personally. Don’t. In most cases the person providing the feedback doesn’t know you. They’ve had a glimpse into your product or your service or your experience and they’re responding. The feedback is about them, not you. Negative feedback, presented disrespectfully, had very little to do with who you are, as a person, and an awful lot to do with them, as a person.

IF, the individual does know you, understand that they’re doing this (hopefully) because they love you and they wnat YOU to get better at whatever it is that you need to get better at.

They Are Probably Right

Ok. So, “probably” might be a strong word.

But they probably are.

When I receive feedback, especially feedback that is REALLY hard to hear, I ask myself why it’s so hard to hear. Feedback that we KNOW to be wrong is very easy to hear. Totally simple.

What gets our back up is when it rings true.

The feedback I received about the conference didn’t hurt me because it was totally wrong. I mean, some of it did, but I think more than anything what hurt was the idea that a number of people felt that I (because I’m incapable of recognizing that the criticism ISN’T about me) let people down.

What Doesn’t Kill You, Doesn’t Kill You

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will literally break your spirit.

But you can get that back.

Criticism is not the end of the world. In fact, it should be the beginning.

I’m not going to suggest that criticism makes you stronger, but I will say that you’ll survive.

It is highly unlikely that people’s criticism of your product, your service, or your work will actually kill you.

Take the loss.

And move on.