What To Do When You Receive Contradictory Feedback

Contradictory feedback is a common occurrence in the workplace, and it can often leave recipients feeling confused and unsure of how to proceed. However, rather than immediately reacting to the feedback, it's important to take a step back and reflect on your emotional response. Acknowledge the emotions you're experiencing, whether it's confusion, anger, or hurt, and try not to take the feedback as a personal judgment of your worth. Instead, view it as valuable data that can be learned from.

One possible reason for contradictory feedback is the presence of different stakeholders with varying perspectives. For example, colleagues may have differing opinions on a specific behavior, which could be influenced by their own communication preferences and needs. Understanding this complexity can help you adjust your approach and consider the different contexts in which you interact with others.

Contradictory feedback may also reveal that a strength you possess has a shadow side that negatively impacts others. For instance, someone's calm and pragmatic demeanor may be highly valued by their team, but they may also receive feedback to demonstrate more vision and passion. This doesn't mean they have to completely change who they are, but rather find a balance and explore opportunities to tap into different aspects of their personality.

Sometimes, contradictory feedback may indicate that you show up differently with different people or in different situations. For example, someone may receive praise from their peers but receive criticism from senior leaders. Recognizing these discrepancies can help you identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to perform better in specific contexts.

It's worth noting that not all contradictory feedback carries the same weight. If the majority of feedback aligns in one direction, it's essential to reflect on the nature of the contradictory feedback and its significance. It may be an outlier or offer a unique perspective that warrants consideration and a potential adjustment in behavior.

Understanding and navigating contradictory feedback can be challenging, but it presents an opportunity for growth and development. By staying open-minded, reflecting on the different contexts and relationships involved, and being intentional and flexible in your approach, you can effectively incorporate feedback into your professional journey. Ultimately, even contradictory feedback can be seen as a gift that helps you evolve as a leader.  

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