There is no doubt that some types of feedback can really rattle us. It can cut to the core, even though we know it was necessary. The following is a support solution Angie and I established for our household. Whether it is warranted critical feedback, or not, our approach could be helpful to others.
Feedback is often a difficult experience for us when it is not aligned with what we believe about ourselves (our self-aware self vs. ego). While some people bounce back quickly from critical feedback, many find themselves in a fog, like a funky feedback fog, and if we aren’t careful, we can drag others into that fog with us.
The concept of emotion contagion is not new. Simply put, overt emotions/energy from one individual can be picked up by others in the same environment. I am guilty of this at times, bringing that funky feedback fog home and gracing Angie with it. Now that I am more aware of this, I can quickly recognize the disservice I am gifting her. Often, I can count the mere minutes from the first encounter when Angie will pick up my emotional funk. However, this isn’t fair to her, and it doesn’t help me work through it if my number one cheerleader is now ticked off, annoyed, or perturbed. I need her to be happy and healthy to support me at times and I compromise that with emotion contagion.
However, Angie and I have worked through this and developed an approach we would like to share. We give each other “24 hours” to be in a funk, be “butt-hurt,” or whatever you might call it. We express our love and support for the hurt person, offer an opportunity to talk about it if/when ready, and more-or-less go our separate ways. Often, at least for us, it is at the end of the workday (around dinner time) and the last thing either of us wants to do is mar the evening and mood of the whole house.
So, in going our separate ways, it is often something simple like I will make dinner and she goes and reads, or I head outside to occupy my hands and mind, and she does something of interest to her. However, prior to going our separate ways, we issue the hurt person the reminder that “you got 24 hours” to essentially exist in this funk (with the intention that after 24 hours we’ve moved on and stepped up to the next challenge/opportunity). Something remarkable that we’ve noticed is that more quickly than not, after acknowledging the other person’s pain/hurt/disappointment and issuing them the “you got 24 hours” accompanied with an affectionate smile, we seem to quickly transition out of our funk and back into the evening.