Moment Of Clarity

Honest Feedback: Can You Take It?

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I was talking with a potential client who wanted to get promoted but struggled with understanding why the promotion had not happened. After listening to him for several minutes, the reason he didn’t get promoted became clear: He didn’t want to change.

The change that I’m referring to had less to do with his behavior and more to do with his perspective. More specifically, how he saw the world and the role he played in it. When I told him this, he asked me if I would be able to help him to which I replied, “No.”

He looked puzzled and asked why I couldn’t help him if I knew what the problem was and, from what he’d heard, helped other people with similar challenges. Within his question lies the lesson about feedback.

The term “feedback” is tossed around quite a bit. How often have you heard people say, “Tell me the truth!” or directly ask, “Can you give me some feedback?” or, my personal favorite, “Can you offer me some coaching on this …?”

Probably a lot.

Now, how many times have you thought, “He or she wants me to tell them what they want to hear.” Or, “They are just going to do what they want to anyway so I don’t know why they are asking.”

Probably a lot.

The answer to the question: “When should you not ask for feedback?” is “When you don’t want to hear the truth.”

The term ‘feedback’ is code for ‘the truth’ (a.k.a. tell me what you really think). The reason I didn’t accept the guy as a client is because he didn’t want to change the way he thought about his situation and the role he played. If you can’t see the role you played/continue to play in your current situation (good and bad), it will be hard to see how you can play an effective role in the solution.

It takes courage to hear the truth about how people experience you, especially if you completely disagree with them. Nonetheless hearing what people have to say about you and their experience of you is where change begins.

From there you can learn how to play with the possibility that some things may be true. While you may conclude that much of what people think of you is untrue, it’s that kernel of truth within their feedback that will help you grow. You just have to look for it.


1)   Realize that you are part of your problem. If it is your problem, you have to own it and the role you play in it. While you may not have started the problem, owning it places you in the position of being able to fix it.

2)   Accept that you are unable to figure this out or solve it alone. An effective way to solve a dilemma is with a second set of eyes. People who are further removed the matter usually see things that allude us because we are too close to the situation.

3)   Mentally prepare yourself to hear the truth – good and bad. While being confident is a good thing, hearing the truth will strike a blow to your ego. While it may hurt a little – or a lot, depending on the size of it – your ego will become healthier and more grounded.

4)   Understand that no one is perfect. Your flaws are fertile areas where you can grow and become better. Remember, if there is nothing to work on then you stay where you are.  You don’t develop.

5)   Be open-minded and consider the possibility of what others are saying. If you’re unable to consider that how someone experiences you may be true, you will find yourself struggling quite a bit to find the kind of peace and happiness you’re seeking.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!