“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord“. 2 Samuel 12: 1
“He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding”. Proverbs 15:32
Sonia was told by her patient that her rude behaviour had hurt him deeply and that he would be hesitant to come to this hospital thereafter. Rakesh was penalised by his supervisor for a mistake caused due to negligence of the registrar who did the previous shift. Divya was told by her boss that if she did not change her attitude and behaviour, he would not be able to promote her, even this time.
All of us have been recipients of positive or negative feedback at some point of time.
Feedback can be an opportunity for personal growth and a tool for developing better relationships if responded to appropriately.
In the Bible passage, Prophet Nathan confronts King David about his adultery with Bathsheba and his attempt to cover up her resulting pregnancy by having her husband killed. David’s response, even though his crime was grave was commendable. He admits to the crime and repents, and was willing to face the consequent punishment.
How do we react when we receive feedback?
Do we try to defend our actions because we are afraid of being judged, criticised, alienated or rejected?
Do we feel attacked, regardless of whether the feedback was positive or negative?
Do we retreat in silence or do we counter attack and accuse the attacker, make hostile comments or become sarcastic?
David quietly acknowledges his error. It takes emotional and spiritual maturity to make such an admission. It requires a heart that is tender towards the spirit of God and open to correction. Accepting God’s unconditional love will help us to understand that we are not defined by our mistakes, and this opens the channels to let God work in us.
Next time we receive a feedback, we should consciously become aware of our tendency to defend ourselves.
We could start by accepting the feedback and keeping an open body posture.
Instead of attacking the “attacker”, we could ask the person what he or she would have done in the situation and thank the person for his or her insights.
If we are aware of a bad decision we have made, we could admit it before it is brought to light.
If there is a genuine and credible justification for our actions, we could state it in a calm and unemotional manner.
Dear Lord, help us to love instruction and to resist defensiveness, so that we may grow in you and glorify you in all our interactions. Heal us of our insecurities and our need to be blameless. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
How do we respond to feedback? Relate an incidence when you received a feedback, how could you have responded better?
Will Sonia be kinder to the next patient she sees? Will Rakesh be able to explain himself? Will Divya be able to change her attitude and behaviour? What would you do in their situation?
How do we keep ourselves from being prideful and keep our hearts tender and open to feedback?