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How to Courageously and Safely Request Feedback as a Highly Sensitive Person

Have you ever received feedback that was really difficult to hear?

If you’re Neuro-Divergent (Highly Sensitive Person, on the Autism spectrum, ADD, ADHD, etc.) you might really struggle receiving feedback.  In fact, for some of us, receiving feedback feels like nothing but criticism, which can cut straight to the heart – at least it can feel that way.

I recently learned that for many with ADD and ADHD, especially combined with being an HSP, there is something called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD). This is a real thing!  Feedback can hurt.  And, if you have RSD, then the hurt can shut you down for days or weeks.

Being sensitive to feedback doesn’t mean you’re broken, wrong, or just need to toughen up, or not take it so personally.  Please don’t shame yourself or others.  Sensitivity is a gift that the world could use more of, not less.  Those of us who are sensitive simply need to learn how to function in a healthy way amongst a desensitized world.

Even if your response to feedback is not so strong, there are some really important things to keep in mind when requesting feedback so that you actually get useful feedback, instead of just opinion, preference, or advice.

My Experience with Feedback

I recently went through an experience that was profoundly painful related to receiving feedback. I was very intentional about requesting the feedback, and thought I had been quite skillful in doing so.  In some ways, I was.

While the feedback I received was useful and on point, still, I made a number of mistakes which led to my deepest core wounds being activated.  Thankfully, I have the skills to recover, heal, and use the experience as a point of transformation.  However, I acknowledge that I could have been way more skillful in how I asked for the feedback.  I want to share these reminders with you.

Here are some tips to help you get feedback that’s useful.

  1. Discern if you’re an HSP, have ADD or ADHD, or suffer from RSD.  If you have any of these, then seek feedback extra-carefully.  Do not take this lightly.
  2. Be clear about why you feel you need feedback. Is it coming from a healthy, humble, and sincere place of desire – or is it coming from an unhealthy sense of unworthiness, self-doubt, or insecurity?

    Only seek feedback from a healthy, sovereign place. If you have any of the unhealthy stuff,  you don’t want feedback, you need affirmation.  Get affirmation first, anchor into your sovereign worthiness, and then seek feedback from that place.

  3. Remember: Unsolicited feedback tells you information about the experience the sender was having. Full stop.

    If you have the skills, depersonalize it. Understand that advice, suggestions, opinions, etc. have nothing to do with you. Use the information to develop empathy for the heart of the individual and their experience, if you have access to that. If you have the skill to depersonalize it… then, and only then, check it for any nuggets which may be useful.

    If you don’t have the skill to depersonalize it, then delete it without a second thought.  You have no obligation to listen to feedback when it hasn’t been requested, or if it was given before consent was requested.

  4. Solicit feedback only from sources you personally trust and love, who know you, understand you, believe in you, and also will tell you the truth – even if it’s hard to hear. Why? Out of context feedback is generally only partially useful, at best. Everything exists in context. There’s a reason you did it the way you did… don’t discount that. Those who know and love you (and your work) will be able to keep the context in heart, therefore their feedback will be contextual and much more useful.
  5. Do not solicit feedback from people recommended to you by people you love and trust. Just because they love and trust the person does not mean that love and trust will transfer to you.

    If people you love and trust recommend people they love and trust to receive feedback, let them be your intermediary. Let the ones you love and trust handle getting and receiving the feedback, and then translate that feedback into a format that you’ll be able to receive. They don’t even have to tell you where it came from, just that they got some additional feedback. Let it come through their heart, not someone else’s.

  6. Be crystal clear about the kind of feedback you’re seeking and ask precise questions to get only what you need. Some examples:
    • Example: Instead of asking, “Go through these steps and share what your experience is like,” ask, “When you clicked on this button, were you taken to this page?”
    • Example: Instead of asking, “How does the design of the page feel to you?” ask, “Is the font size easy for you to read?” and, “what emotions does the image at the top evoke for you?”
    • Your clarity about what you need is critically important. Why? Because everyone will have their own experience. If you take one person’s experience as the full truth, then you’re compromising someone else’s experience. So, if you’re going for “what is your experience” type of feedback, you’ll need to aggregate feedback from a larger number of people and only pay attention to trends.

The next time you are considering asking for feedback, I’d be curious to hear how these tips support you in getting feedback that is not only useful, but also builds you up. Please share in the comments below!

May the feedback you request help you experience more love, not less – all-ways.💜℠