I Don’t Want No Bad News – but I am Curious about This News: Our Polarized Reactions to Negative Feedback

I Don’t Want No Bad News – but I am Curious about This News: Our Polarized Reactions to Negative Feedback

With some assistance and support in our own community of truth, we can identify and articulate our left column and identify ways in which these non-disclosed thoughts, feelings and assumptions can readily be self-fulfilling – further escalating the tension and miscommunication that is operating in this dysfunctional relationship. How do we find an appropriate way to share some of these thoughts, feelings and assumptions with the other person? How do we find a way to make this a growth opportunity for ourselves and perhaps the person with whom we are interacting?

It is quite common for negative feedback to be delivered by someone whom we don’t fully trust (regarding either their intentions or their competence). At the very least, the delivery of negative feedback can itself create a contentious relationship if it induces the polarity dynamics that I have diagramed for myself. Thus, it is particularly important for each of us to turn for support to a coach, consultant, colleague—or ideally a community of truth–when accepting or even asking for negative feedback. The opportunity for development and life-long learning is there.


With a little assistance, we can be thoughtful, growth-seeking leaders who seize the opportunity to learn something significant about our self and about how we can best balance support and challenge in our work life (and even more generally in our personal life). The gift of significant learning often comes in strange packages. We are given the opportunity to unwrap and make constructive use of this gift. Hopefully, you and I can both avail ourselves of this opportunity in our personal and professional lives—perhaps finding truth within community.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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