Processing Feedback

Feedback has always been a very interesting thing. Sometimes it gives you bad feelings because one and other things, but oftentimes you receive an actionable item that propels you to the next level.

In the past, It’s not rare that I feel sad and depressed when receiving feedback. Most of the time this happens because I can’t proses the feedback well. Either because it is bad feedback, or because I’m just stuck in analysis paralysis because of the inexperience.

Bad Feedback

What do I mean by bad feedback? It is the feedback that doesn’t have a concrete example, is not specific, and is not relevant.

If the feedback receiver is a software engineer, the following feedbacks are feedback that can be improved:

  • “Your code is not following the standard” is the feedback that doesn’t have a concrete example.
  • “I don’t like your attitude” is a feedback that is not specific,
  • “You are beautiful”, is a feedback that is not relevant.

The feedbacks can be improved like the following:

  • “On yesterday’s pull request, you aren’t running linter before merging to master and it has unsorted import order. It’s not up to our company’s standard style”
  • “When you are talking to me, I feel attacked because you sound condescending”.

And please, don’t do this:

You can try to improve the feedback that you received by letting the other person know that you need more information on what his feedback is about.

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis come from internal, rather than an external factor. You received decent feedback and causes a lot of things to come into your mind. “Do I always sounds condescending?”, “Did I break something?”, “Is my mistake will smudge my performance?”, “What I can do to fix this?”, “I’m so stupid I don’t realize this!”, and many other thoughts.

In the past, I’ve been very pessimist that it affects my mental health and me being suicidal. I always see the bad possibility that can happen. Add that with the analysis paralysis. When that happens, I closed my thought, and at worst, I become depressed.

I’ve been able to handle that process much better. I know what to analyze, how to take the next action, and how to ensure things don’t derail. Read 3 things that changed my life.

3 Things that Improved My Mental Health

In the past, I’ve been too pessimist that it affects my mental health and me being suicidal. I always see the bad possibility that can happen. Add that with analysis paralysis. When that happens, I closed my thought, and at worst, I’ve become depressed.

It was a gradual recovery, and a never-ending process, exactly like what this comic illustrates:

Now, I’ve been able to handle that proses better. I know what to analyze, and how to take the next action.

These are the learnings that helped me recovered.


Proactive is the first habit from the book of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able”. I learned that I don’t need to blame genetics, circumstances, or other external sources for my behavior.

The most enlightening part about this habit is the realization about “Circle of Influence” and “Circle of Concern”.

Circle of Influences are concern that I have some control over. My attitude, my behavior, what I buy, what I read, who I surround myself with, what I post in social media, and many other things.

Circle of Concerns are mostly concern that we don’t have control over. The news, coronavirus, other people’s behavior, political issues.

Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern - eBiz Facts

In the past I was very affected by my circle of concern. Even if my concern is for greater good (who don’t want a clean air and no traffic jam?), it’s outside of my influence. Instead of focusing on what is in my circle of concern, I can focus to enlarge my circle of influence, so that in the future my influence can encompass my concern.

This shift of focus allowed me to reduce my thinking scope into something that is much more manageable.

Getting Things Done

This is actually the title of a book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

The book name is cheesy, but it actually explain about a really good framework. It allows me to open up my cluttered brain, and remove my analysis paralysis by doing a brain dump and let it settle for a while before going back to it in a well mannered approach.

I learned how to differentiate between a to-do list and a project. Whether a thought is actionable or not. If it isn’t actionable, what should be done with that? It’s an obvious thing that wasn’t obvious to me, and reading the book helped me clarify a lot of things.

Risk Management

On one of my conversation with my friend, he told me when doing a design document at his works on a high-risk project, he feels much safer, because people pointing out all the risks. Those people are not trying to shoot down the project but to understand how he will handle it.

In a short word, if things are going awry, what is the exit strategy?

We can also illustrate it with the following analogy related to Triathlon, a sports competition where you’ll need to run, bike, and swim to reach the finish line.

No matter how good you are, but if you can’t cover your critical weakness, you won’t reach the finish line. Read more about it in this presentation slide.

All those things helped me to have a healthier mind. But all of those wouldn’t be possible without me having a healthy relationship that helped me to break the chain, the circle of negative thought.

If you are still in a depressed state, please talk to a professional. When you are in a healthier mind, my experience probably will help you to fight your biggest enemy, your self.