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Welcoming Constructive Feedback

April 7, 2017

Recently, in the midst of an elevated agitated mixed state, I received constructive feedback from three different people. It got me thinking about how I received this and what it might look like to others if they were in the same place.


I have learnt that when I am unwell, to whatever degree, I loose insight into what behaviours I am displaying. I have therefore invited those around me to provide me with constructive feedback, so that I can enact coping strategies and techniques to lessen the severity and minimise the impact of the episode.


Everyone, loved ones, carers, family, friends and ourselves, need to understand the term constructive. ‘Constructive’ equals positive, helpful, productive, useful, beneficial and practical. Constructive feedback does not start with any finger pointing or blaming; it approaches highlighting the behaviour in a way that is non-blaming, non-judgmental and non-critical.


For example, my husband ‘WallE’ broached my behaviour in such a way that I did not feel threatened and therefore did not become defensive or argumentative. “Nicci, when you were talking to X & Y when they were here this afternoon, I noticed a few things that you were doing and saying that concerned me.” Then he explained what he observed. Now because I did not have insight into what I was doing, I asked him to give me examples, because until then, I couldn’t decipher where my behaviour had been inappropriate.


Another person two days later asked me how I was and following my overview of how my mixed state was impacting on me, she felt comfortable in expressing what she had observed. This example was around my communications with people via email and the directness/bluntness of my wording coming across as aggressive, blaming and critical. I raised this example with my husband and daughter, which led to my daughter providing examples of some of my Facebook posts which had come across as me being angry/upset with what had been written previously. Which, in actual fact I was attempting to stir the pot and be humorous.


Well, I thought to myself; I obviously no longer have control over what is happening. So I contacted my Pdoc (Psychiatrist) and we tweaked my meds. Things are improving, my darling 'WallE' is monitoring my behaviours and giving me feedback and I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin.


Now I want you to think about what thoughts this raises in you. Do you give constructive feedback or do you finger point? Do you welcome constructive feedback or do you see it as intrusive and stifling? Are you wondering how you could change things to make this intervention work between you and your loved ones?


One of the big advantages of making ourselves open to constructive feedback and helping our loved ones understand what constructive feedback might be, is that it helps us to learn and see when we lose insight, how we present to others and when we need to reach out to get help. It also means we can be proactive and hopefully nip a full blown episode in the bud.


What it comes down to, is that what you need to do, say and share to help your loved ones understand what you need, to enable your loved ones to help you, so we understand each other better and live in harmony. Give it a try.

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