The New Johari Window #22: Quadrant Two: The Locus of Control
It makes a big difference with regard to feedback when a person has power over me or when they represent, in some manner, the formal authority in an organization of which I am a member. “Neutral” feedback provides information about me that I can either accept or reject. “Power-based” feedback provides command as well as information. “Neutral” feedback might contain a hidden agenda. I can usually either seek out this hidden agenda or ignore it. “Power-based” feedback inevitably contains a hidden agenda.
As the potential recipient of this feedback, I had better seek out this hidden agenda for my own welfare. If nothing else, I had better gain an appreciation of the biases, assumptions, perspectives of the feedback-giver, if this person is in a position of power over me. No wonder I don’t want to receive “power-based” feedback: it requires careful listening, interpretation, analysis and “mind-reading.”
There are two other important differences between “neutral” and “power-based” feedback. First, my own reactions to these two forms of feedback are likely to be quite different. If the feedback comes from a “neutral” source, then my affective reactions are more likely to be “neutral” or at least moderate in magnitude. I might not like to receive negative feedback from a neutral source; however, if I have requested the feedback or trust the intentions of the feedback-giver (see fifth factor), then I am likely to be able to listen to the feedback (even if negative), absorb it, and even do something about it (under my own free will). If the feedback comes from a “power-based” source, then I am much more likely to react to the feedback in a highly emotional and “irrational” manner, even if the feedback is positive. This, in turn, means that I am more likely to distort what I have heard. I might generalize what I hear (I become all good or all bad), shift the focus of the feedback (“Is he really talking about my team or is he talking about his own problems?”), or deny the feedback all-together (“Who is he to complain!” “She doesn’t know what’s she’s talking about!”).