What is the problem?
After reading Chris Argyris's 'Teaching smart people how to learn' article I began to reflect on my behaviour towards feedback from others. And I realised that I am not really good at taking people's feedback on my performance especially when I have done my best. So what is an effective way to deal with this kind of behaviour or attitude?
How did I come across this problem?
As I reflected after reading the assigned readings, my thoughts took me to when I received negative yet constructive and helpful (now that I have changed my behaviour) feedback from students and Peter about one of my reflective journals. Argyris mentioned in his article that one technique people use to deal with such things is to be defensive. So my defensive action was to block out these feedbacks and make myself forget that they even existed. I have thought about my action and have asked myself why? Argyris answers this by saying that defensiveness is mostly because of the fear of failure or the fear of experiencing the fear of failure. I am the type of student that takes things seriously. Writing reflective journals may not be a big deal to others, but to me it is (failure is not an option). Argyris also talks about how being defensive will block the opportunity to learn. This has helped me realise that I am being a hypocrite, I say to myself that I am learning when I am actually stopping myself from learning. I am not helping myself if I keep on being defensive. If I want to learn my attitude or behaviour in dealing with feedback should change.
How can things be done differently?
I have realised my problem and have discovered that the fear of failure is one of the hurdles that I should overcome. Instead of thinking of failure as not an option, I should think of it as a possibility if I do not learn to improve or improve at all. No one is perfect and everyone will have to experience failure at least once in their life time. We should not judge ourselves on our failures but how we pick ourselves up, learn and then move on. Another hurdle is complaining and taking feedback to heart. Yes, feedback should be taken in but not to the point where you think that you are just useless and its better if you should just forget about it. Feedback should be seen as a help to improve. We might feel demotivated by receiving negative feedback but remembering it as a learning tool will make things easier to take in.
What action should I now take?
After reflecting and analysing I have come to a conclusion that I should take in feedback and not be defensive or offended. This process may take a while but it will give me the opportunity to actually learn and improve.
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4--15