Does this sound familiar?  You’ve just had your end of year review. You spent the last hour with your manager reviewing your progress. You were really pleased with your performance over the last year and have made some great headway in your work. You were expecting this to be a session full of praise, but no she told you, you need to work on your relationships with a particular client who is notorious for being difficult. You’re fuming.

Your house is on the market and you happened to be in when some potential buyers came to view your property, they were gushing over the décor and you felt a real sense of pride. That was until you overheard them talking about the bathroom. Apparently, the bright pink you have on the wall makes it look like a brothel. How dare they!

Why is it that we focus on the one negative comment amongst the plethora of positive ones?

Is it our need to be perfect? The fact that we have been socialised to believe we can have it all, we can achieve perfection. But is there such a thing as perfection? What one person believes to be perfect will not be to another and therefore we are never going to be perfect in everyone’s eyes. What is a fantastic pink bathroom will not be everybody’s cup of tea and what makes us different is also what makes us interesting. What matters is that we are comfortable with our own version of perfect our imperfect perfect.

Is it because of our need to be accepted and liked by others? In our jobs we want to be credible, we want others to think we are good and respected for what we do. Often when we continually seek the confirmation or the approval of others it can be because of our fear about not being enough, clever enough, successful enough. We question whether we are worthy of that salary that job title, that corner office.

We need to remember the wider context of the situation. So when we have one perceived ‘negative’ feedback amongst twenty positive one because we have a fear that we are not good enough we will focus on that.

How do we gain that perspective?  A performance review by nature is about how you can be the best that you can be. A good review will also look at future progression for you and consider what you can do to prepare yourself for the next step. Therefore, the nature of the conversation means that there is highly likely to be a development need that is presented. In fact, your manager has probably been given guidance to identify an area so that a balanced approach is taken. The words ‘development need’ is the key, it doesn’t mean it’s a weakness, but rather is an area that could serve you well if you focused on it. Life is about learning and growing and there is always something we can work on.

Consider the context of the feedback. Is it meant to be a session when some is looking at what they perceive to be the strong points and the not so strong? The pros and cons of a house, the strength and development areas in a performance review, then it’s a situation that will bring up ‘negative points’. However, consider that this is more about achieving perfection in their eyes it’s about how it could be made even better, how you could be not just a rock star, but a rock star with sparkles, how the house could not just be a worthy consideration but their dream house with no modification needed.

Remember it is someone perspective, which does not mean it’s necessarily true but rather their interpretation. In a performance review understand if this is something that is critical to your job now or more about how you can be even better or prepare yourself for that next position. But don’t lose sight of all the positives.

To readdress the balance, why not take a moment to capture the feedback. Consider it as a bank account. On onside you have your credits all the good things there were said, then you have your debts, which are the development areas, the pieces of feedback you didn’t like. By writing it down in this way it’s a great visual technique to gain perspective.

Remind yourself that:

  • No one is perfect, our imperfections are what make us interesting.  You are your own version of perfection
  • We all have the capacity to grow and learn new skills, knowledge and experiences
  • Its someone perspective, so it doesn’t mean it’s true or commonly held
  • Gain perspective.  Did the context of the situation mean positive and negative feedback was expected?
  • Revisit the positives and right size the negatives.

If you are preparing for a performance review why not check out my blog.