Anxiety and Feedback

The idea in exploring the connection was not as painful as I thought!


The idea for this post came from a conversation I had with Rebecca. (Thanks Rebecca for your blessing!)

I think this might be the start of a series of posts about anxiety. It all started more than five months ago when I floated the idea to Rebecca about doing a podcast episode about a book about feedback.

I sent her a link to an NPR feature.

The book is called ‘Thanks for the Feedback’ — and if you’re listening while reading through the entry. You should be able to click on that title and that will send you to a page on NPR. If you have the copy of the book now in your hands — you might notice the interesting notes on the cover (I thought it was a nice touch with the topic on hand!)

Another link I found for the book is their Google Talk.

When I mentioned that I was hoping to do an episode because of what she shared, she was ecstatic (as the book sounded really interesting, and she’d want to know if I did do a podcast episode)

This was the post that was quite instrumental in the lead up to our conversation about feedback.

So if I start a conversation with someone who follows Elementary very closely, and that person finds out that I only watch the non-graphic episodes (usually the one that involve Moriarty I skip)…and just says something like: ‘you shouldn’t judge those story elements if you skip them’. In that situation…I’d likely just shrug and say: ‘That may be so.’ — and not make an effort to communicate with this person ever again!

I just take it (no matter how rude the comment directed at me…and even if it takes me days or weeks to get over it)…as: ‘We’re not a fit, so…you might as well keep your distance.’ — though the level headed version of that would be: “I’m not your kind of person”

And when Rebecca said that it was a very healthy way of thinking (that instead of letting myself get affected by this person’s point of view, or however unkind the treat me — I focus on whether this person is a fit for me. And if not — I walk away from further interactions), and she wishes to have that kind of positivity in her life…I thought: ‘You’re my kind of person! My Tribe ! Similar Values!’

As I have the ‘idea gene’ (oh yeah some days I can’t keep up!), my next thought was: ‘Hey! What better way to see if I can pitch some ideas for her to try!’


So…I continued my questions…to make sure I  was able to get as much understanding as I could of her point of view before my idea pitches. Rebecca shares that her anxiety may have to do with her inability to consistently think in that way. What happens is if she gets a comment from someone…and because she spends too much time thinking about it…it ends up becoming negative.

Since action was quite important to me…I thought I’d ask if there was a baby step she thought she could take.

Then I got this answer: “I think I need to try to be more positive? Or maybe just be accepting about what people say about me?”

I thought ‘uh oh’…too general. Then inspiration hit.

I suggested she watch ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story‘ because of that particular scene that accurately represents how a person’s thoughts can just go on a downward spiral based on an unexpected event in their life.

I didn’t mention it to Rebecca yet, but if you’re thinking of collecting a LOT of material about this, you can grab a copy of Dan Harris’ book (10% Happier) — as he has his own ‘automatic downward spiral story that involves Duluth’. I’m hoping Dan’s sense of humour would appeal to yours too! It did with mind while I was reading the book.

So back to ‘Thank You for The Feedback’. I haven’t yet finished the book. Though, what I’ll do, is just grab a concept from the notes I’ve made so far and that can be the starting off point.

“When we give feedback we notice that the receiver [the recipient] isn’t good at receiving it. When we receive feedback we notice that the giver isn’t good at giving it.”

Sounds like a double standard right (Though it’s quite easy to fall into that kind of thinking if we were looking at things only through our lens)?
So a really nice way to sum up the heart of the book: ‘Doug and Sheila give ideas so we could deliver feedback in a way that the person we’re giving it to would be more receptive’. And on our end, ways on how we can be more receptive to feedback…and with practice we are able to learn from anyone.

Stressing out looking for a coach right now (finding the right one)? You don’t need to stress anymore! So…instead of finding the right coach — you can just learn from just about anyone (too much of a reach? Hehehe — If your cynical voice is being loud right now…just quiet that voice down).
If you already have a growth mindset (including the acceptance that in every feedback you receive…there is something that you can use…even if it just ends up as a reminder). This is probably why people resistant to change are usually the ones that are quite draining to be with (try it!). So you can make that book as a litmus test for people around you — to find out how they react (are they for change…or not?). And you might find that those people who haven’t reacted positively about the book might be the same people who are a drain when they are around you.

Three forms of feedback:

  • Appreciation – “I’m really happy you’re my mum”
  • Coaching – “you can put less stress on your spine if you sit up straight”
  • Evaluation – “Based on your sales figures, you are currently at second place” (So those jeans that either are too big or too small for you…there you go!)


The reason it’s quite challenging to identify these, is because sometimes we are looking for one kind, and then sometimes miss that we’re actually being given another kind. Once the kind of feedback is identified…I’ve realised it’s so much easier to not only drill down — it’s also easier to decide if you’d still want to waste your energy in finding out more.

It’s like a sorting box:

  • To The Bin
  • Maybe
  • Something that can definitely help


Another thing I’d like to mention is one of the biases that comes out when feedback goes from the giver to us. Because these biases are present, we are unlikely able to classify the kind of feedback we receive   This one is called ‘Truth Trigger’ — anything that doesn’t sit quite right. If we get feedback that touches that specific trigger, whether that feedback be expected or unexpected — the result is the same, that what the person tells us gets us a bit unhinged.

For me one example was a particularly stinging one — it happened awhile back…and it just…I was just surprised when it happened.


It was quite unexpected because the person where it came from was not the sort of person who’d act that way (you know…’rude’ or ‘like a jerk’).

When I have initial exchanges with someone, all those build up a person in a good way or in a bad way. And with this person — the information points towards: ‘You can trust her, she is your kind of person’.

It was during one of the Q&A process sessions…I go through sending perspective interviewees questions, then they come back with answers. And because it’s a long form format — it’s not just: ‘here’s your questions’ — then when I get your answers they gets published. So this person was going through the process (I think we got to the second round of questions by then?) then things about her started to unravel.

It usually doesn’t take this long before my ‘fit alarm’ goes off. Somehow this person fell through the cracks and managed to evade it. I remember thinking of ways on how to be stricter in my filter — maybe test first an initial correspondence to see if the ‘real them’ would come out.


After a day or so being upset at what happened and thinking to myself: ‘how could I avoid this happening ever again?’, I thought that I should just accept that things like that happen (people who have a tendency to be unkind and struggle to listen well would occasionally slip through the net I’ve set up) and what is important is that as soon as I recognise that I should stay away from this person…I act.
So while reading her reply, I just noticed something was a bit off. So I asked: ‘Was there something I could have done to make it clearer?’ — I mean…rather than: ‘What the!? Did you read my email before saying yes!? I had mentioned the approximate amount of questions!’

So the reply I got was something like: ‘I’m only answering these questions because I had some time, but after this no more.’ —- My brain was fuming! I’m thinking: this lady didn’t read anything at all (well that’s not true, she did read something — but somehow is only picking then twisting what she has read however she wants it to come across)! ‘What!? What!? What!?’ (Replay the above…Chorus of: ‘Did you ready my email!?’)
This was what really set my ‘Truth Trigger’ off: ‘No one will answer 50 questions’

This time my brain was sizzling!? ‘Whhaaaaaat!? — What is this person on? I mean…it’s clear that people ‘have’ (and not just in general!!!). Look…look at the Q&A’s!!! I put in time to make that Q&A invite for you as clear as possible and not only you don’t read it…you don’t even check out the samples!!!’

So once I’ve calmed down. I thankfully was able to write something less fumey like: ‘Would it be okay to cancel our Q&A?’ — I knew…that was it. Walk away.

The reason that I was just going off my memory, is that I didn’t want to look at those emails (my gut says I’ll be kicking up those feelings of being ‘pissed off’ again). Yes, my ‘fiery personality’ might burst out again. And if you’re thinking ‘fire in my heart’ is a reference to that…okay…maybe. I know that I was thinking of something else when I wrote it (more like the energy to move towards progressing a project that is particularly close to my heart), though I wouldn’t discount it, because emotions can be pretty crafty!

There’s another one (yay! Bonus!?). Though none of my ‘brain fuming’ amusement. I think it’s quite okay to add this one (it’s called ‘Identity Triggers’) because there is a bit of an overlap with the ‘Truth Trigger’ in a way…that it’s about us. One way to find an example for it is: ‘Remember the time when someone didn’t like a film that you liked (especially when you shared how much you liked it)?’. And the person who you shared it to didn’t like the film? Then you felt offended somehow? One reason for that could be that your identity is linked to some part of the film. So When the person didn’t like the film — it feels like they are saying: ‘I don’t like you’.

Another source is Simon Sinek’s talk (USI) — where he mentions about Mac users — if you insult a mac (even if its not theirs)…you’re basically insulting them.

It’s a cool book! 🙂 And I noticed that one of the notes I’ve made that I don’t have any issues with receiving feedback anymore. Even after writing that…I still think that I was able to get something for being a better ‘feedback receiver’.

If you do end up reading the book. Let me know which section you found the most helpful!


I thought that I wouldn’t be veering off what I’ve written, and what ended up happening is that I had to go back to the text while listening to the audio post*



* To get a copy of this episode in audio (and to get notification of future ones), all you have to do is jump in the funnel. 🙂



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