So the ability to turn down feedback and create boundaries is crucial to receiving feedback
well and really to creating healthy relationships. One of the paradoxes of receiving feedback
well is that in order to be able to say yes you also have to be able to say no. If you
can't say no to feedback what ends up happening is you're constantly saying yes and maybe
resentment builds up and then instead of actually engaging and having conversation, we might
just end up fleeing the relationship altogether because there's just too much pressure in
So there are three boundaries that are useful. One is simply saying I'm willing to listen
to your thoughts and your advice but I may not take it. Another is saying the place that
I'm in right now, your advice is not helpful so I would prefer that you not give it to
me. And then the most stringent boundary is saying do not give me this advice and if you
continue to give me this advice I'm gonna have to leave the relationship or I'm gonna
have to -- there are gonna be some consequences that I have to impose.
So one key in turning down feedback is to use the word and. And what that really means
is to -- you can be firm in turning down feedback but also appreciate the potentially positive
intentions that someone has. Your friend or sibling may be giving you advice on dating,
so it's driving you crazy but their intention is positive. So you can say, you know, I understand
that you care about me and you love me and you want me to have a happy life. At the same
time, in other words and, and it's having a negative impact on me. So you can appreciate
the intention and then also turn down the actual feedback.
It's important when turning down feedback to be specific. Don't simply say, "You're
driving me crazy" or "Stop annoying me" or "Stop giving me feedback." Be explicit and
specific about the topic that is upsetting you. So, for example, if a friend is staying
with you over the weekend say, "If you're gonna stay here for the weekend I request
that you not give me advice about my parenting or that you not comment on my parenting."
And then explain why -- explain why it's upsetting. That gives the other person at least a fighting
chance of complying with what's important to you.
It's also useful to be specific about the timeframe. So is this your asking as you get
your feet under you as a new parent is this something that you just would like their complaints
the first few months that they not be badgering you or maybe it's your whole life. It's also
important if there are gonna be consequences, if you're thinking, "Gee, if you're gonna
continually give me advice about my parenting it's gonna cause me to try to avoid you sometimes
and that's upsetting for me as well as for you." So if that's the case, if you really
are gonna be avoiding the person they should know the potential consequences. And then
the last piece of it is to be, to get their ascent. In other words, to say, "So I've made
a request. Is it clear to you and is that something that you can agree to." And once
they've signed on they have a certain level of commitment to it so they can say, you know,
hopefully they say, "Yes, I won't mention your parenting style." And then if they do
it's easier for you to reference it as well.
So if I've decided that I'm not changing I've created a boundary. That's fine but we all
have a duty if we're living or working with other people we also have social interactions
with them and responsibilities toward them. So, for example, let's say you're my spouse
and you've been encouraging me to try some medication for ADD. And maybe I've tried or
maybe I've just decided I'm simply not going to, I don't like it. So you're setting a boundary.
You're giving me feedback. I'm not taking the feedback and that's your right. But at
the end of the day we also have the duty to think about the other person and to think
about -- so if I'm not gonna take the medication what can I do at least to make things better
So maybe each morning we'll go over a joint list of the tasks that need to get done today
and we'll just sort of problem solve together. What would be helpful to you? What's gonna
be helpful to me? And what might actually help the situation. You wanted me to take
medication. I'm not going to. That's the boundary but that doesn't mean I don't have a responsibility
to try to make things better for both of us.