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Why we fear negative feedback

Most of us place at least some value on what others people think about us. Whether it's caring what your boss says in your yearly review, what your friend thinks of your new relationship, or what your parents think of your life choices - it's not necessarily bad to take into consideration what others think. However, like most things, there needs to be balance.

But what happens if there isn't balance; how does it impact your life choices? Sometimes, fear of negative feedback, or even criticism, can make us avoid working towards goals altogether.

There are many reasons why someone might fear negative feedback. Let's go through a few common examples.

1. Low self worth

If you feel unworthy, then it can be very hard to feel capable of working towards goals. Why would you go for that promotion if you don't feel 'as good as' the other candidates? Why try if you're not good enough? These are just two questions a person with low self worth might resonate with. If you don't feel worthy, the last thing you might want is someone to confirm that. So that leads you to not even try.

2. Perfectionism

Some of us struggle with feeling that we have to be perfect and any comment that indicates we're not causes us to spiral in negative thoughts about ourselves. Fearing any kind of feedback that doesn't indicate we've done something perfectly can cause us to take that feedback like a personal weakness. And since being perfect isn't possible for any of us, this is particularly troubling. Even helpful feedback on how we can improve feels hurtful.

3. Fear of failure

This is another common reason we don't work towards goals. Fear of failure can show up in a variety of ways, anything from fear of asking someone out and them saying no ('failing to get a date') to not taking the LSAT for fear of a bad score (thus 'failing to get into law school') to not taking a promotion because you're afraid you don't have the skills ('failing and then getting fired'). Fear of failing can cause us to avoid trying new things, even new hobbies, for fear of not being good at them.

These are just three common reasons that we fear negative feedback. Whatever the reason though, the results are often the same. The fear takes over and we hold ourselves back. I'll be continuing on this topic for week's to come, and next week I'll be focusing on just why what other people say impacts us so much.

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