It’s tough to be mindful of the feedback we give and receive. We’re humans, and humans are fallible – even mild feedback can seem harsh if it’s perceived to come from a place of hostility, or if we feel like we’re somehow threatened by the person giving it. However, feedback is inevitable, so it’s our duty as compassionate human beings to make sure that it’s taken and received as best as possible.
Imagine you’re standing at the top of a snowy hill holding a snowball, looking down at a person who you’ll inevitably hit with it. You have two options: either throw the snowball right away, or let it roll down the hill and take time to reach its target. You don’t want to throw the snowball right away – you’re going to hurt the other person! It’s so much easier to let it slowly roll down to its target. But – that’s actually going to hurt even more when it hits! As the snowball rolls and more time passes, it’s going to grow until it’s overwhelming… and then, wham!
That’s just like feedback we hold on to for longer than necessary. The small criticisms we’re afraid to say grow when an issue is repeated and compounded. So – just throw the damn snowball! It’ll hurt much less and be more manageable.
Keeping relationships positive
It can be scary to give small criticisms if you’re worried about keeping a relationship healthy. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. Positivity psychologist Daniel Goleman describes the ideal ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback as 3:1 in a business setting. What that means is that relationships will continue to be positive if you give 3 pieces of positive feedback per each criticism.