Growing Through Negative Feedback

PersonalityHacker-negative-feedback

We use an online app called Mention. It’s a program where you plug in search terms and the app crawls the web for every instance those terms are mentioned. We find it way more effective than the free Google version, and if you run a website or have a company with an online presence it’s a great tool for keeping your finger on the pulse of how your brand is doing.

Most of the time the ‘mentions’ we get are positive. And then, everyone once in a while, this happens:

personalityhacker.com-getting-past-bad-feedback

When your website is called “literally the worst” by anyone (even if their self-assigned Reddit flair is ‘basic bitch’) it’s going to sting. I’m pretty sensitive to negative feedback and a big part of my growth path as PH gains more traction is to be able to sit with and hold space for negative feedback.

Now, my first reaction was to make an apologist post. I truly hate being misunderstood, and I feel like the above feedback is a breakdown in communication.

hustle as hard as you hateMy second reaction was to mentally write this person off (as well as what seemed to me to be bandwagon jumpers that comprised the rest of the conversation) and think, “Make your own website then. Maybe you should hustle as hard as you hate.”

A major theme in my personal growth path is to sllloooooowwwww everything doooowwwwwnnnnn, and respond instead of react. This has been a hard won lesson for my reactionary ENTP brain, and that goes double when my Harmony 10 Yr Old (aka Extraverted Feeling tertiary) process experiences rejection.

So, while I’ll be addressing the comments of the above post (are we literally the worst and an iNtuitive superiority site?), it became clear to me that there’s a growth opportunity if I also address something all of us on a mission face: how to deal with push back and caustic feedback from the world and not simply give up.

Dealing with Push Back

From the moment humans realized how much easier it is to survive in large groups there’s been one rule: don’t get booted out of the tribe. Our sensitivity to feedback is a finely-tuned instrument we’ve created to gauge just how close we are to being ousted.

When we receive negative feedback we forget we live in a global community. That’s very new for humans, who are used to living in tribes of about 150 people. The feedback triggers our, “Oh, shit, does everyone feel this way?” mechanism and we subconsciously fear if that one person influences the other 149 people we’ll be given the boot and left as scraps for hyenas.

That’s pretty ancient programming. But that doesn’t matter one whit to our sympathetic nervous system, the part of us that’s ready to get into action when it’s ‘all goin’ down’.

Negative feedback, like gossip, has always been used to promote unspoken social contracts within a community that has each other’s backs. It’s evolved from ‘don’t kill that dude because you want to mate with his woman’ all the way up to “OMG, you’re going to wear those shoes with that outfit?”

If the ancient parts of us think we’re literally about to die from the negative opinions of others it makes sense why so many people play it safe. Reason would say that we’re way past the time period where being booted from the tribe is essentially a death sentence. But that requires us to be reasonable people, which we’re not. We’re a hodge-podge of multiple programs running, and usually we don’t even know how much on autoresponder we are until we’re 1) given an opportunity to observe our programming and 2) have the fortitude to actually see it for what it is (and not spin a narrative to rationalize it away).

When we’re ‘on mission’ we generally do as much as possible to be disruptive to the establishment. We’re addressing something we believe needs to be changed, and the bigger the thing that needs to be changed (i.e. the bigger the establishment) the more push-back we’re going to get.

Most establishments have become organisms, and organisms are self-protective. When they sense a foreign entity their number one goal is to hemorrhage it out.

Society is no different. When we have a Big Game message we’re not just fighting the establishment, we’re also fighting its anti-bodies, aka everyone who likes things the way they are.

Let’s use the example that prompted this article, the Reddit user that nominated us “literally the worst.”

Self-Protective Organisms

There are a couple of things one must understand about the context of this comment. First, the subreddit this thread was in has as its #1 rule “No intuitive bias.” Second, the poster is a Sensor.

The Myers-Briggs world is pretty iNtuitive biased. This makes sense as iNtuitives are the most likely to observe and appreciate speculation and pattern recognition. Type is almost entirely based upon pattern recognition since there’s very limited scientific evidence at this time.

iNtuitives are also a fairly disenfranchised group. It’s common for an iNtuitive, upon learning of the Sensor/iNtuitive dichotomy, to identify it as the cause of their problems and challenges. And if that person hasn’t learned the life lesson that sometimes things just are and no one is necessarily to blame, it’s very easy for the iNtuitive to start blaming Sensors.

Sensor bashing is rife in online communities, and it’s totally understandable that Sensors attracted to the Myers-Briggs system would get tired of that shit real fast. A rule of “no intuitive bias” is a pretty clear indication that the bias exists. That particular subreddit is then biased against the bias.

A site dedicated to empowering iNtuitives looks just like all the other sites that act as if iNtuitives are better than Sensors. Which we emphatically do not, but that’s like identifying the natural blonde in a world of bottle blondes. A cursory glance isn’t going to be enough to tell the difference.

I say all that to express sympathy for the person that called us “literally the worst.” But that’s not the complete story.

In any world where a subgroup of people are dominant in numbers and/or influence, there’s going to be fear of destabilization if the world changes to accommodate a different demographic. Sensors have always outnumbered iNtuitives, but the world of changing technologies have required us to adapt fast and Sensors aren’t known for rapid adaptation.

It seems as if types who use the cognitive function Introverted Sensing (SJs in the Myers-Briggs system) are the most adaptable over time. But this world isn’t giving us time, and it’s putting huge strains on all of our infrastructural systems to keep up. Infrastructural systems that are primarily maintained by Sensors.

Books like Rise of the Creative Class and Blink illustrate that a more intuitive approach is increasingly necessary. From the perspective of many compelling models, we’re a society on an exponential growth curve indicating that things are only going to be getting more cray-cray, not less.

The current infrastructures and institutions of society – government, the education system, religious systems, the commercial world, etc – all have traditionally favored a Sensor approach. On a macro level the world rewards sensory characteristics – the work ethic, the desire to build a quiet and comfortable life, traditional values – and people tend not to question what’s already been established.

Any sufficiently established institution becomes an organism, and iNtuitive values can seem like foreign entities requiring the aforementioned hemorrhaging.

So even if there weren’t savvy but fed-up Sensors that understand the S/N dichotomy split, there would still be push back from the world for something like an Intuitive Awakening. There are countless stories of disruptive iNtuitives of the past being fed things like Hemlock cocktails for their efforts. It’s not a new story, just one we might be finally ready to listen to.

If you’re a Sensor this is really easy to dismiss, just like it’s easy for me as an Extravert to dismiss the pain with which Introverts have to deal. But that doesn’t change the fact that for those Introverts the pain is real.

iNtuitives as a demographic deal with things Sensors don’t have to even think about, and an Intuitive Awakening is meant to address those concerns.

Saying an Intuitive Awakening movement is ridiculous is like saying the recent Introvert movement is ridiculous. There has been and continues to be a need for awareness around introversion, as expressed by how relieved Introverts are to have language for all the phenomenon they experience in a Extravert’s world.

The same thing applies to iNtuitives in a Sensor world. As much as Sensors may not understand how this impacts iNtuitives, it doesn’t matter. As an Extravert, myself, I sometimes wonder if Introverts are just being whiny. And then I remember I have no fucking clue what it’s like to be an Introvert. There’s clearly pain there, and if they need a movement to feel empowered, then I’m glad the world is ready to give it to them.

How Much to Care About the Feedback

So, how much am I going to care about people who give negative, even caustic, feedback?

In this particular case it’s a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, Sensors are going to have to be a part of the Intuitive Awakening movement since the point is to get the social unconscious to accept that iNtuitives exist at all. Sensors already into Myers-Briggs are going to be some of our most important allies.

On the other hand, there’s going to be push-back from people sensitive to how abusive iNtuitives may have been toward them in online communities. If they’ve been on the receiving end of this abuse chances are they’re not going to be lining up to be the cheer leading section of this movement.

So, the only thing we can really do is take it on the chin, recognize we’ve got our work cut out for us and do our best to be a good example.

The more empowered iNtuitives are – the more they’re working on themselves and developing as the highest versions of themselves – the less likely they are to be dicks to other people, including Sensors. The less dickishness iNtuitives exhibit, the more friendly Sensors will be to this movement.

And the goal isn’t to make Myers-Briggs savvy Sensors more accepting of iNtuitives. The goal of the Intuitive Awakening movement is to get the S/N dichotomy split into the social unconscious so that when iNtuitive parents have a Sensor child or Sensor parents have an iNtuitive child there isn’t a “what the hell is wrong with you” mentality going on.

In general, though, feedback of all kinds is a GOOD sign.

My brother is a well known writer of Science Fiction. His books (along with his writing partner) are doing extremely well, and just this past year were turned into an acclaimed TV show on the SyFy network. He was recently interviewed about how he feels when people say how they could have done something better in either the books or the show and he said, “The sad fact is if nobody is giving you a hard time on the internet it’s because no one has heard of you.”

The more powerful your message is the more polarizing it will be.

It doesn’t matter how much positive intent you have, how great the pains you take to be crystal clear, or how important your message is. People are at stratified levels of development. People are in pain.

As insecure as you may feel on your road to delivering a message, other people are just as insecure. In fact, more so. Otherwise they’d be sticking their necks out to deliver a message.

When You Need to Listen to the Criticism

That’s not to say all negative feedback exists because other people are just jelly. There are criticisms we need to hear, and sometimes it comes from the most caustic sources.

In the above example, the criticism I’m hearing is “make sure you communicate more effectively.” The reason we don’t have the Sensor types on our front page is because (at the time of writing) this is a brand spanking new website design for us and we haven’t finished all the type pages yet. Our core demo are the iNtuitive types and so we designed their pages and wrote content for them first.

I knew it felt incomplete to me to only have the iNtuitive types on the front page drop-down menu, but I didn’t think it was sending a message. So, I’m now more aware and will be making sure to complete those Sensor pages asap.

Holding space for criticism may be the most difficult thing you do as you scale up in your mission. Remember, you’re pre-programmed to see strong criticism as the first step toward literal death. But in order to be the best version of yourself and to optimize your message you have to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

If your ego is afraid it’s going to die from the negative feedback, let it. Let go of the pride. Remember these ancient fears once kept us safe, but they aren’t really necessary anymore. You’re going to be fine. It’s the mission that’s the important thing.

And for pete’s sake, don’t let it stop you. The fear of negative feedback stops so many people. Don’t be a statistic. Scale up. Thicken the skin while keeping the heart soft and compassionate.

Be a thought leader.

-Antonia

How do you deal with negative feedback, and what are some strategies you’ve discovered to stay strong in the face of criticism?

Want to learn more?

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Showing 16 comments
  • Jelisa Nila
    Reply

    Amazing. I did some internet bashing minutes before reading this article and I am grateful to have read it. I understand now why I reacted that way.I’ll loosen up and take some for the team. Learned alot. Love the website!Blessings.

  • Steven
    Reply

    I’m not really certain how to gauge my own ability to handle feedback, I know there are times when I can handle it quite gracefully, and then there are times when it devastates me. It makes me want to crawl under a rock and never come back out (so I suppose that is an indicator of a foundation in shame). There are a few times when it angers me too, but that is generally when I feel that the feedback was unwarranted or unnecessarily harsh—such as the type you were dealing with, that would have thrown me into an obsessive state of pacing back and forth, brooding over it.

    So, to summarize the above paragraph, I think I have three major feelings which revolve around feedback which I don’t take well: sadness, shame, and anger.

    One example of feedback which I didn’t take well was a time when I’d worked really hard on a project at work which I was passionate about, and I was quite proud of my results, but when I presented it to my ENTJ boss (who is also a friend of mine), he said that much of it was unnecessary (I put a lot of thought into future-proofing and flexibility, and that was the part he deemed overly complex). I just grew silent, and a moment later he said: “What’s wrong? You look like someone just killed your puppy.” I kinda laughed and moved on, but I was still quite upset under the surface, and I’ve never been able to forget about it. I’m not trying to hold on to it, but it won’t go away, and I’ve found I’ve become more reluctant about sharing my ideas with him. I get a sinking feeling just thinking about it. ( I suppose this is rooted in pride, now that I relate it to the closing paragraphs of the blog post. )

    I usually take feedback about my personal development pretty well (I think), but when it comes to my thoughts and opinions, I don’t generally handle that feedback quite as well as I should. When the feedback is about me, I don’t take it as personally because I can break it down, reflect on it, think back about situations where it is or is not true, and make a mental note to catch that behavior next time it is happening so that I know to pause and reassess things. I have trouble doing that when it comes to my work though… there is a lot of pride there revolving around perfectionism which I have difficulty getting a handle on. Speculatively speaking, I wonder if it has a lot to do with my work primarily utilizing one of my backseat processes, as I am absolutely not a ‘thinker’ type, but my work revolves heavily around that aspect of myself.

    I don’t have as much motivation to improve myself on the work side of things either, being in an IT related field, I get little to no appreciation for the things I do, and my fearless leaders typically don’t value the same things I do, my values are often thrown to the wayside. It’s a bit demoralizing sometimes.

  • Steven
    Reply

    > As an Extravert, myself, I sometimes wonder if Introverts are just being whiny. And then I remember I have no fucking clue what it’s like to be an Introvert. There’s clearly pain there, and if they need a movement to feel empowered, then I’m glad the world is ready to give it to them.

    Thank you very much for this.

    I’m not big on the “movement”, but I’d like to give my thoughts on the matter, if you might humor me. I know you’re familiar with the effects that mental exhaustion can have on a person—you guys talk about it all of the time in its various forms, so I think you might already know where I am going with this, but I’ll forge ahead anyways. I think that the whiny-ness you might generally see in introverts ( I know I do this too ) might be due to the amount of introverts who are constantly on the brink of mental exhaustion just not showing themselves at their best.

    I don’t know about other introverts, but I was taught to be an extravert growing up—I was literally locked out of my house for hours at a time, because my mom felt so strongly about this (though I don’t blame her, she had a lot of personal demons weighing heavily on her, but I won’t get in to that). My point is that I didn’t know about managing my energy levels, and that poor self-care reflected in a lot of my actions, and so I think sometimes people need a little slack in that regard. I know there are introverts who were raised in ways that taught them these skill, be it implicitly or not. (Maybe they had introverted parents?)

    I mean, you’ve already related this to the S/N split, which is already highly accurate, but I think that since the I/E split is so much more heavily based around energy, this can have a much more profound impact on an introvert, if that makes sense? Maybe I’m over-valuing my own personal experience though. 🙂

    I still want to write a different comment about the rest of the article. >.> Very good article, by the way! I always love how you can step back from those things and examine them objectively. I suck at that. -.-

    • Steven
      Reply

      Incidentally, looking at the formatting of the comments. I’m noticing that the paragraphs are running together. I’m not sure if that is intentional, but if it isn’t, then this CSS will fix it by adding a one line margin to the top of any paragraphs which directly follow another paragraph.

      .mk-commentlist li .comment-content > p + p { margin-top: 1em; }

      Again though, I can’t be certain if this is intentional since it may affect other areas of your site that I am not taking in to consideration. Thanks!

      • Antonia Dodge
        Reply

        Thank you! It’s a new site design and we’re still working out the kinks. 🙂

        -A-

  • Chris
    Reply

    Why do you have to cuss so much? I couldn’t even finish reading the article. That is unfortunate and dissapointing.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      I swear because it’s honest for me to do so. I’m going to assume not liking swearing is honest for you and not simply loyalty to programming from other people in your life that told you swearing is bad or wrong.

      If we’re both being totally honest with ourselves and discover an impasse, that’s cool. There’s a lot of personal development stuff on the web from people who feel similarly to you, and I don’t take it personally when people don’t gel with my vibe.

      -A-

      • Sallemz
        Reply

        I had to go back and read this article to find the cursing. In a world where much stronger words are used regularly, yours was so mild it passed me by!

  • Evelyn Baker
    Reply

    Food for thought! ENFP here, and this has given me much to chew on. A couple of years ago a friend and co-worker of many years referred to me as an “obnoxious know-it-all”. Can’t tell you how devastated this was to me! When I told my then husband about it, he smirked. He’s an ISTJ. I was wounded to the core. At first I decided to be totally non-authenic and crawl into a silent shell. But that didn’t last long lol.
    Since then I’ve used that input to constructive use. Slllooowwwwing doowwwnnn, as you say has been helpful. Making and holding space for others, taking a breath and listening.. Realizing when I’m in that obnoxious know it all mode it’s because my batteries are totally charging and in my excitement I am pushing every button and poking every bear I can find. It can be intoxicating! So I do try to slow down and hold space for others. Sometimes I’ll give a verbal disclaimer. Sometimes I realize I have to live with the consequences of my actions. But sometimes, to be my authentic self, people need to be pushed and stretched a bit.

  • Carli
    Reply

    Antonia,
    I am fairly new to the Myers-Briggs world and your website and YouTube videos are probably the most insightful and helpful resources I have found on the internet. This article has completely won me over, well done! As a website dedicated to personal growth, your response has just proven how it is actually “literally the best”.
    I salute you.

  • Kerry
    Reply

    I commend your ability to take a step back and make a gem/useful resource out of this unpleasant experience. Honestly, the Reddit poster seems to have taken an incredibly superficial view of your site and mission. And the discussion question seems designed to bring out the trolls: who else would go comment, except the people that want to take out their aggression by bashing sites? Why don’t they talk about the best? I think your blonde analogy in this post is spot on. They’re looking for something to be upset about, and their anger is misplaced.

    I’ve found your site to be *literally* the best (not joking), and I’m often sending people here. It is one of the most balanced towards sensors that I have seen. I’ve been reading about MBTI for 10+ years and most of the analytical sites skew heavily intuitive in their content, clearly catering towards the market (and quite understandably writing from the typically intuitive author viewpoints). But because they don’t state that they have a slant, this non-observant person didn’t go after them.

    I’d be interested to read some MBTI sites written by sensors, but with the except of John Beebe, I’m not actually familiar with any MBTI specialist sensors. I think we’ll only get true balance through a diversity of viewpoints, and we can’t expect any one person to represent all types with the same ability as their own (though as you’ve pointed out before, sometimes we can actually inadvertently add bias to our view of our particular type). That being said, I think you guys do it better than anyone else I’ve seen. Likely as two (now three?) people, you can balance each other’s understanding of functions and type experience better than a solo author.

    I’m an intuitive, but I have a lot of sensors in my life, including my beloved father and several of my best friends, and of course they’re great people. Your ISTJ and ESTJ podcasts were awesome and thought-provoking, and so was the one about the gifts that all sensors bring. It’s unfair that the poster calls you out for highlighting the very real misunderstandings that intuitives often face and for wanting them to discover their gifts. Teaching a misunderstood subset to discover their gifts isn’t hurting another set of people that you aren’t teaching — it’s not a zero-sum game like this person thinks.

    If they actually listened to what you were saying in your content, they’d see you’re *bridging* the gap rather than causing any S/N divisions. The divisions were already there, mentioning them isn’t worsening them.

    Any time you take a stand for something, there will always be someone popping up to be against it. Trying to cater to such people is the reason we get so many shifty politicians who never truly stand for anything. Kudos for standing for something great, and keep rocking it.

  • Hayley
    Reply

    Thanks Antonia. I found this very enlightening, esp the stuff about how iNtuitives are equipped in a time of fast change. I also agree with the poster above and really commend you for your maturity and understanding. This is all very inspiring!

  • JJ
    Reply

    Hey Antonia. I feel very happy to see your progress, it gives me hope for myself and I find it quite inspiring. I found such tremendous maturity, grace and empathy in your post. And such vulnerable humanity, like all of us. You completely understood where they are coming from and instead of judging them back, you understood them. There is a quote by Spinoza on similar lines – that one should try not to mock, deride, belittle others, but to understand them. It’s definitely something that happens slowly – it’s so much easier to react than meaningfully respond and keep your perspective, aim, and mission in sight – it is almost like you zoomed out first for distance and then zoomed in and saw all the little but significant details that must have triggered the commentator’s reaction and your own initial discomfort. I congratulate you once more because to me, it feels like a milestone – which is not to say it’s not tempting to fall back into the trap of reacting vs responding – but for now it seems worth celebrating.

  • Katie
    Reply

    “Our sensitivity to feedback is a finely-tuned instrument we’ve created to gauge just how close we are to being ousted.”

    Antonio, thank you for writing this post. I’ve come back to it three times this week, in combination with the Graves Model post, the bully memes podcast, and the Drama Triangle post. It’s helping me sort through my reactions to a lot of bad things that have happened. I can’t tell you how invaluable that is.

    • Katie
      Reply

      My apologies on misspelling your name!

  • Priscilla
    Reply

    I happen to be listening to episode 10 of your podcast called Feedback at the moment, which relates to this blog. I deal with negative feedback in a number of different ways in the different situations I find myself in, such as from family, friends, rivals, online, work, etc…The strategy that I found I use the most is understanding their perspective first then analyzing what, why, and how negative feedback was said. At first, I do feel an immediate reaction, but use my own discipline to restrain myself to not let my reaction out of control, I then calm down and move through what I’m feeling. I found that you had mentioned an 8 minute time to feel the emotion and go through the emotion in the podcast as well, in which I find myself doing which works great. Another strategy I do is ask myself what have I done as in action to receive negative feedback, usually I will notice that I didn’t consider something, I mean how can we always know and do everything, so I find that usually the problem. I have come to find that I have difficulty in receiving negative feedback in the form of assumptions and them leading to believe something that isn’t true and I have considered ignoring the ignorance, but it doesn’t help. I have found that you cannot correct them in their way of thinking and you can’t take every feedback as just, so for those offensive feedback I’ve learned to confront them and get down to the root of the feedback as well as stand my ground.

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