Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tips from the Tops - gratitude

Tip: Regard all feed-back as generous and take it in with gratitude.

Top:  Dr. Nancy Porter-Steele, Ph.D., R.M.F.T.C., T.S.T.A.,  a psychotherapist and counsellor in private practice since 1971.
How it Works in My Life: The other day I received the jurors' comments on my novel, True. I was glad to receive them as I didn't expect to. I thought it was a done deal - you lost the contest - keep writing - kind of thing. Instead I got three people who wrote candidly and generously about what they saw in my novel. By generously I mean that they appeared to put a fair amount of thought into each comment. Of course there were things that burned and some that irritated  and I started crafting a letter to the contact person thanking her and the jurors but just mentioning one or two difficulties I had with what they said. Then I remembered what one of my wonderful mentors in psychotherapy (and life) told me about difficult feed-back  -- thank everyone who gives you feed-back for their offering, no matter how you long to explain yourself or argue with them. So I did. And I did it true. In the moments and hours and now a couple of days later I realized that thing that I forget. I really am appreciative and I really will consider everything they've said. I won't neccessarily change everything to their liking (especially as some of it is contradictory) but I will consider each statement in my mind and heart.

I have been on juries. They are very hard work and usually done for love, rarely money. You don't even get to talk about it with anyone as it is quite often a secret who the jurors are. I agonized over my comments and hoped to hit the right pitch so that the writer would take it in as it was meant and not think for a moment that I wasn't (and continue) to be in total respect of anyone who finishes a major piece of writing and cares to hear what others might think.

Why it is counter-intuitive to do so - because we avoid pain and it is painful to hear what people who don't neccesarily love us think about our work. That is why it is so valuable to be given the opportunity to hear it. The other reason that I wished to reject some of the comments is because I know it means more work for me on a piece I'd hoped to consider done. Agggh! Back to work my lovey, I said to myself this morning.

How are you with difficult feed-back?


Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - I think it is really important to be grateful for the amount of time and effort people put into reading and commenting on one's work. I feel that way about my beta readers too. Yes of course it's natural to feel a little defensive - maybe a lot defensive. After all, those are our creations the jury is commenting on. Not much different in that sense from what the teachers say about your child. But it is important to look at it from the gratitude point of view...

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

It is definitely quite hard to take feedback as positive but I knopw what you mean. I find I have to digest it a bit first and then can reconsider it in the cold light of day!

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